Scandal forced NCAA to acknowledge long-simmering problems.

The FBI's investigation last fall into corruption and fraud in men's college basketball can't really be called a wake-up call. Not when the problems — big money, flouted rules, sham classes and never any consequences for wrongdoing — had been so out in the open for so long.

It’s good, though, that the scandal forced the National Collegiate Athletic Association to acknowledge the long-simmering problems by appointing a commission to examine the issues. Even better is that the commission has taken its charge seriously, delivering a series of recommendations that would be improvements over the status quo.

The commission has recommended ways to encourage college athletes to complete their degrees, including allowing undrafted players to return to school without penalty and enabling athletes who leave early to earn their diplomas cost-free.

It also sets out a separate path for those athletes who have no interest in college by calling on the NBA to once again allow 18-year-olds to be eligible for the NBA draft, thus ending the one-and-done phenomenon in which sought- after players spend just a year playing basketball in college before jumping to the pros.

Noteworthy was the call for the overhaul of the NCAA's investigative and enforcement arms, using independent investigators and imposing stiffer penalties. That the University of North Carolina escaped punishment after being caught — and then admitting — that athletes got credits for courses that were never taught by instructors showed the association's inability or unwillingness to get its member institutions to adhere to the rules.

Such failures, as the commission pointedly noted, serve as a reminder that school officials as well as the NCAA bear responsibility for such violations, and it recommended that university presidents be required to certify annually their due diligence in complying with the NCAA’s rules.