NEW YORK — NCAA President Mark Emmert found one bit of good news in all the bad that has rocked college sports and cost several big-name coaches their jobs.
"I encourage you to be attentive to something that was positive in all those scandals in a sense that it really demonstrated a sea change in responsibility," Emmert said Friday.
"If 14 months ago ... we had said this next cycle we will watch the firing of the head coaches of Ohio State, Penn State, North Carolina, Tennessee basketball, Arkansas — all fabuously successful coaches on the floor and on the field — to see those five men fired for misdeeds, not for failures on the court or on the field, none of us would have believed it.
"I sure wouldn't have thought that was possible," Emmert during a meeting with Associated Press Sports Editors.
Coaches such as Joe Paterno (Penn State), Jim Tressel (Ohio State), Bobby Petrino (Arkansas), Butch Davis (North Carolina) and Bruce Pearl (Tennessee) in the past had been considered "untouchable," Emmert said.
"You're seeing boards of directors, of trustees, and presidents and athletic directors saying 'You know you've done a great job here. We love you. We pay you really well. You get all this adoration. You've got to live by the rules.'
"And that's a good thing."
Emmert also said transfer rules are too complex and need to be changed, and he added NBA rules that have led to one-and-done men's basketball players make it "hard with a straight face to say these are student-athletes."
The rules that allow coaches to restrict if and where Division I basketball players and major college football players can transfer have been drawn into the spotlight by several recent cases in which the student-athletes seemed to be unfairly restrained.
The latest came this week at Wisconsin. Freshman forward Jarrod Uthoff from Iowa has been given permission to transfer to any school outside the Big Ten.
The school said Uthoff asked for permission to contact 16 schools and the Badgers rejected four of them. Uthoff appealed over three of those schools and met Thursday with Athletic Director Barry Alvarez and associate AD Justin Doherty.
Emmert said transfer rules that allow coaches to dictate a player's future can make college sports look like pro sports to fans.
"My biggest concern though, frankly, isn't the optics of it but whether it's fair or not to the young men and young women," he said. "What's the rationale for constraining someone to move from school to school?"
Forty percent of students who play men's Division I basketball transfer at some point during their careers, according to NCAA data.
The rules for transferring are varied and come from a variety of governing bodies.
"We have different transfer rules for different sports. We have different transfer rules based upon different circumstances in a sport. We have different authority over transfer rules; some at the conference level, some at the institutional level, then some at the national level," Emmert said.
"I think it's a crazy quilt of messages that are being sent out to the public, but more importantly to the kids. We need to sort that all it. I don't think it's working very well."
He also doesn't think the NBA's rule requiring players to be at least 19 years old and one-year removed from high school graduation works well for college basketball.
Kentucky won the NCAA title earlier this month led by three freshmen, including player of the year Anthony Davis. All have announced they will go pro. Davis is the likely first overall NBA draft pick and his fellow one-and-done teammate, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, is also a sure-fire lottery pick.
"I have not been shy about my displeasure with the one-and-done rule," he said. "And while people have tried to make it sound like (NBA Commissioner) David Stern and I are in great disagreement, we're not."
Stern has said he'd like to increase the age limit with the hope of having players stay in college for at least two years.
"I don't like the notion an athlete, a young man, would come to us and see us not as a being a student at a university that is playing a sport, but as a necessary step that they've got to touch that bag before they move on.
"I think that makes it extremely hard with a straight face to say these are student athletes."
Emmert would like the NBA to go back to allowing players to be drafted out of high school.
"People have said to me 'That might mean that the best athletes don't come to college.' OK," he said. "People are still going to come to the Final Four. LeBron went to the NBA, we still had good attendance that year.
"College athletics isn't about putting the absolute best player on the court It's about college students who are basketball players on the court and to the extent we can maximize then the better off we are for it."
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP