|The NCAA wants to do something about decals on the court that compromise player safety. (Getty Images)|
Well before I even flew to San Diego last November for the Carrier Classic some friends joked that I might find myself in a dangerous situation watching a basketball game alongside President Obama aboard the ship that was months earlier used to bury Osama bin Laden's body at sea. Honestly, I was never concerned because I figured the USS Carl Vinson would be among the world's safest places that Friday afternoon given all the security preparation and security present. But that didn't stop the texts from coming because jokes about terrorism are, for some reason, easy jokes to make. I guess.
Turns out, the most dangerous thing on the ship was a slippery decal.
It nearly cost Michigan State's Branden Dawson an ACL.
"We've got to get rid of those logos in the middle of the court," Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said after his Spartans lost that game on that ship to North Carolina. "We can put logos other places. I'll wear logos to support the people who sponsor us. They can paint me. But we have to get rid of the logos for the safety of the players."
The NCAA rules committee apparently listened.
In a headline that was overshadowed by VCU's move to the Atlantic 10 and the Florida State president's email that suggested a possible jump to the Big 12 might not be as great as some think, the NCAA men's and women's rules committees this week announced that they are recommending a change that requires basketball courts be "of a consistent surface" so that player safety is not compromised. The change must now be approved by the playing rules oversight panel next month. But multiple sources told CBSSports.com that June 12 conference call should serve as little more than a rubber-stamping, meaning the slippery decals coaches have complained about for years -- not just Izzo, but also North Carolina's Roy Williams and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski -- won't complicate the courts of events this season.
Branden Dawson, you are safe to run around again.
"The safety of our student-athletes has to come before anything else," said St. Peter's coach John Dunne, the chair of the men’s basketball rules committee. "We’re seeing players slip on the non-consistent parts of the floor too many times. … We don’t want to sit back and wait for injuries to happen and then pass the rule."
Good on you, rules committee.
Terrific job. Folks making decisions on behalf of the NCAA or its member institutions too often say one thing and do another, and it's maddening. They talk about tradition and then contribute to the Big East getting torn to pieces. They talk about academics and then schedule a Division I game that tips at midnight local time on a school night because ESPN promised to place it on television. They are hypocrites of the highest order.
But not this time.
This time the words match the actions.
Nobody waited for a devastating injury to happen to a high-profile player from a high-profile school before eliminating a clear problem with these slippery decals. They could have, and I half-expected them to because that's how things typically work. But they didn't. This time they did the right thing without an unnecessary serious injury forcing their hand.
Yes, the rule change took too long to be recommended.
But at least it didn't come too late.
College basketball courts everywhere should be safer going forward.
Intact ACLs rejoice.