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NCAA hosts 2019 Elite Basketball Symposium

Annual program helps high-profile student-athletes understand choices

The NCAA leadership development group, in collaboration with enforcement staff, hosted the NCAA Elite Student-Athlete Symposium, which provides high-profile college basketball athletes with information and networks to help them make decisions and understand issues surrounding a professional career in the sport.

The program is for student-athletes who have a high probability of being drafted in the National Basketball Association or an international league, yet still have collegiate eligibility for the upcoming season. Athletics department staff in compliance, coaching and administration also attend the weekend-long program with their athletes.

Athletes who participated in this year’s symposium learned about NCAA rules surrounding agents; financial responsibility; NBA and G-league operations; branding and social media strategies; how to leave college in good standing; and tips on how to return to college to complete a degree. Athletes and administrators also heard real-life experiences from former NCAA student-athletes who played professional basketball, and pro league expectations from former NBA general managers, scouts and directors of player personnel. Messaging centered on the unique opportunities the athletes have while in college; taking advantage of educational opportunities; and how to prepare for life once their collegiate experience concludes. The athletes also participate in mock interviews and other communications training that prepares them for media and branding opportunities.

“One of our main goals with the NCAA Elite Student-Athlete Symposium is to equip these student-athletes with information that helps them better understand how current NCAA rules could impact them; what they might experience should they decide to pursue a professional career in basketball; and how to make decisions that will benefit them now and later in life,” said DeeDee Merritt, acting director of NCAA leadership development.

“The program introduces the athletes to a network of sports and industry professionals who have experienced similar situations from when they were in college, so they can relate directly to what the athletes are going through and how they might address specific matters. It’s always interesting to hear the athletes say how better informed they are once they’ve gone through the program and be able to provide examples of new things they learned or things they never realized,” Merritt said.

The NCAA hosts the basketball symposium each September in Indianapolis and also hosts a similar symposium for football student-athletes each spring. NCAA staff members work with sports and industry representatives to identify participants each year and extend an invitation to the athletes through their schools. The NCAA does not publicize the names of athletes who are invited to the program, which is open only to student-athletes and athletics administrators at those schools. Thirty-three athletes who attended past basketball symposiums remain on active professional rosters.