Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari likens the NCAA to a dying superpower and believes the college-sports governing body faces extinction unless it embraces reform. "The situation reminds me a little of the Soviet Union in its last years," Calipari writes in a forthcoming book. "It was still powerful. It could still hurt you. But you could see it crumbling, and it was just a matter of time before it either changed or ceased to exist." Calipari, whose Kentucky team lost to Connecticut in college basketball's national-championship game Monday night, is the latest prominent figure to join the chorus of critics who argue that the NCAA takes unfair advantage of athletes. The organization is currently facing a possible trial in June in a case regarding athlete compensation. Earlier this month, a National Labor Relations Board ruling designated Northwestern's scholarship football players as employees and awarded them the right to unionize. Calipari's book, "Players First: Coaching From the Inside Out" (Penguin Press) will be published on April 15. In it, Calipari—a frequent critic of the NCAA who has had previous wins vacated for player-eligibility violations—outlines a 13-point plan for improving the experience of big-time college athletes in a chapter called "At War? Common Sense Versus the NCAA." Calipari accuses the NCAA of selectively enforcing its own rules and hints at a future when college sports are governed by "super-conferences" instead of the NCAA. "I believe the tide is turning," he writes. "The NCAA will soon have to reform itself or it will not remain the dominant force in college athletics."

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In a news conference Sunday, NCAA president Mark Emmert said he agreed his organization needed to change and said he was encouraged by some recent initiatives meant to increase athlete rights and include them in the NCAA's legislative process. "There are things that need to get fixed," he said. But Emmert shot down many of the most radical ideas—including players forming unions. NCAA officials declined to comment beyond what Emmert said on Sunday, a spokeswoman said Tuesday morning. Among Calipari's suggestions for enhancing the life of college athletes is one that other high-profile coaches have recommended: a $3,000 to $5,000 stipend for players to cover the full cost of attending a university. So far, this policy shift has been voted down by smaller schools. Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Sunday the NCAA should consider redefining scholarships, "but the devil's in the details of that," he said. "It's not as easy to do as it may seem, even if we're willing, and we certainly are willing." Calipari also lobbies for the NCAA to cover eligible players' insurance premiums and allow college athletes to accept loans against future earnings up to $50,000. Such a benefit currently violates the NCAA's amateurism rules. Many of Calipari's recommendations reflect the growing movement to expand athlete rights. If a coach leaves his team, Calipari says, players should be permitted to transfer without sitting out for one season, as NCAA rules currently require. In addition, Calipari urges the NCAA to allow players the money for one round-trip flight home every year, access to lawyers and funds for formal attire to wear when representing the school.