NCAA BASKETBALL RELEASE

Underclassmen college basketball players who declare for the NBA draft but are not selected will be able to return to college and retain their eligibility under a new rule passed by the NCAA on Tuesday.

The rule is one of several passed by the college sports governing body this week, in the aftermath of an FBI investigation of the sport into illicit payments made by shoe companies to coaches and players.

Last year, the NCAA created a college basketball commission chaired by Condoleeza Rice, which reported suggested rule changes to the NCAA.

The one most likely to affect college rosters involves the NBA draft. Currently, players can declare for the draft but must make a decision about whether to stay in the draft by the end of May. Players who stay in the draft but are undrafted are ineligible to return to school.

That means players like Michigan State’s Nick Ward and Michigan’s Charles Mathews, who both waited until shortly before the deadline earlier this summer to decide to return to school, could remain draft-eligible to see if they get picked, then return to school if they don’t.

Other significant changes announced on Tuesday include players being able to hire agents as high schoolers. Players deemed “elite” by USA Basketball can hire an agent starting on July 1 before their senior year. Agents must be certified by the NCAA to enter into an agreement with a high school or college player.

The rules on agents and the NBA draft are contingent on new rules being passed by the NBA and NBA players association.

In addition, the NCAA also passed a host of new rules surrounding college basketball recruiting.

Starting later this months, recruits can take up to 15 official visits, including five during their junior year and five during their senior year, and five while enrolled in college. Under previous rules, recruits could take only five official visits.

The recruiting calendar is also changing, with coaches being allowed to attend events put on by high schools in late June, and then attend new NCAA youth development camps in July.

The third tier of the new rules changes involves enforcement, including stronger penalties and the use of independent investigations.

New rules will also require colleges to pay for tuition, fees and books for players who return to school to complete a degree after leaving.