SAN ANTONIO, April 7 -- The NCAA and the NBA have joined forces to launch a wide-ranging initiative aimed at enhancing youth basketball programs in the United States, it was announced today by NCAA President Dr. Myles Brand and NBA Commissioner David Stern during a press conference from the NCAA Final Four in San Antonio, TX.

The yet unnamed initiative is designed to reach and benefit everyone who participates in youth basketball programs, including the more than 23 million American boys and girls who play basketball, their parents and those who teach, officiate and administer youth basketball programs at every level. The initiative will create a platform for teaching youth the value of education and the important lessons of fair play.

While the initiative will operate as a business and is being founded and initially funded by the NCAA and NBA, it was developed with -- and will continue to benefit from -- input from a broad cross-section of parties that have an interest in youth basketball, including USA Basketball, led by its president Val Ackerman, the National Federation of State High Schools, the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), coaches’ associations at every level, and the leading shoe companies. With basketball currently the number one participation team sport among boys and girls in the U.S., all key stakeholders in youth basketball felt a partnership was vital to the game’s continued growth.

“Nothing speaks more strongly for the future of basketball in America than to have all the key stakeholders come together to help create that future. That is what this initiative means. The leadership in American basketball is coming together,” said Brand. “The NCAA is pleased to help in a leadership role in this historic effort and values the opportunity to collaborate with the NBA.”

Initial programming for the initiative will begin during the 2008-09 basketball season, and the NCAA and NBA will soon begin a nationwide search for a chief executive to spearhead this initiative.

“We have an unwavering commitment to the growth of the game and we are excited to join together with the NCAA and other key stakeholders in helping to enhance the development of youth basketball,” said Stern. “Our goals with this broad-based initiative are to positively influence all boys and girls who play the game, to continue growing the number of those who do play, and to help all players develop both personally and on the court.” The initiative will focus on five central objectives:

  • Building strong communities – The initiative will develop a website and social network that will be the ultimate destination for the youth basketball community. With the lack of a single organization giving structure to youth programs, the on-line destination will be an informational and fun meeting place designed to connect boys and girls, their families, teams, coaches and event organizers to further enhance their experience with basketball.

  • Educating athletes – The venture will contribute to the social, educational and athletic development of young players through summer basketball camps and planned skills evaluation programs.

  • Supporting coaches – Working in conjunction with the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, NBA Coaches Association and the National Federation of State High Schools, the initiative will develop a coaching education and certification program as well as a code of conduct for coaches.

  • Developing officials – The initiative will develop educational programs for youth basketball officials to increase their knowledge and proficiency of the rules and to certify them at all levels of youth competition.

  • Events for youth competition – The venture will work with existing sanctioning organizations to establish national standards for future competitions and will also maintain and publish a national calendar of basketball events. In addition, the initiative will include the existing clearinghouse function which determines athletes' eligibility to participate in collegiate basketball.