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NCAA's Shameful Early Entry Rule

Sun, 04/01/2012 - 12:15am

NCAA President, Mark Emmert, has hit the ground running since taking over in April 2010. He’s looking to reform college athletics and he’s actively working towards that goal. Among the issues he’s tackled is fighting the groundswell of support for “pay-for-play” and schools being authorized to pay their players; which may come at the expense of sports that don’t bring in revenue for schools. In doing so, he’s not only protected the Butlers and Virginia Commonwealths of the sporting world, but also the competitive balance college basketball is enjoying. He’s also placed an emphasis on student-athletes making the grade, or their school paying the price for not graduating players. The idea is fantastic (unless you’re a Connecticut fan, I suppose) because if a program isn’t graduating players, then can we really consider them student-athletes? Throughout all of this, he’s routinely used the words “integrity” and “principles” when discussing his initiatives.

Quincy MillerQuincy MillerThere is, however, one problem as the NCAA has been sending some seriously mixed messages about student-athletes. The NCAA has made a rule that minimizes the time frame for underclassmen to decide whether or not they should enter the draft. The players will have only until April 10th (AKA 8 days after the season ends for some of them) to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives. The NCAA is constantly talking about preparing student-athletes for after their careers by bringing athletics and academics closer. But what about those players who are talented enough to make a living in professional athletics? Why do they face a double standard? Shouldn’t they be allowed the time to make the best decision possible with the most information possible? The NCAA even makes an exception to APR (the yearly academic progress report) for those players that leave school to pursue careers in professional athletics. Why then, are the players being put through so much undue pressure to make a swift decision?

During a recent interview at halftime of an NCAA tournament game, Emmert talked about how the NCAA is taking giant steps in regard to simplifying the rulebook. It really can’t get more simple than this. Without the players, the NCAA doesn’t make money; it’s a fact of life. The NCAA reports on their website that their revenue for 2010-2011 was $845.9 million, and notes that most of it comes from their rights agreement with Turner/CBS Sports. That rights agreement is primarily for the right to air the NCAA tournament, meaning that the biggest money maker for the NCAA is made possible by the group of players that this rule punishes.

Emmert has no problem throwing the NBA players association under the bus since there is technically nothing the NCAA can do in regards to the NBA’s rule prohibiting high schools from making the preps-to-pro leap that Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Kevin Garnett made. It’s true that the NCAA can’t do much about it, but they are absolutely taking advantage of the players that go to school but have no desire to fulfill the student portion of student-athlete. But don’t worry, he’s more than willing to punish the school if that player doesn’t succeed in a classroom he has no desire to be in. When high school age kids were allowed to make the jump, there were often times when they got feedback saying they weren’t ready, which resulted in them going to college before declaring. Now, they can’t get that feedback, and they can’t get adequate feedback as underclassmen if they want to declare. Instead of getting quality feedback, they are now getting a disproportionate amount of their info from the people the NCAA says they are protecting the players from: agents and runners and other shady characters.

One of Emmert’s arguments is that he would like to see players be required to stay in school for at least two, maybe three years because the “one-and-done” rule is not ideal for his product, college basketball. While many coaches, including John Calipari and Bill Self, have been outspoken in agreement that they would like to have payers on campus for multiple years, they also accept that it is ultimately the players decision right now. The early deadline rule is a cold, calculated move by the NCAA, member institutions, and some coaches to scare players back into school for an additional year or two. How many times do we hear each year at draft time that a player is going to stay in the draft if he’s a first round pick? The rule is aimed at keeping those players that may or may not be first round picks in school additional years, even if it’s to the player’s detriment. After all, if the player doesn’t have the opportunity to go through the process and get sufficient feedback from NBA people and the NBA’s Undergraduate Advisory Committee in particular, how can they be confident enough to make the leap? If they do take a leap of faith they risk falling to the second round where they can’t count on a guaranteed contract or even going undrafted. In this scenario, not only is the NCAA failing these young men, it’s intentionally hurting them. Sure, you can make the case that it’s helping them get an education, but how many underclassmen that are impacted by this rule will ultimately finish their degrees before graduating? Not very many. Also, what happens if they are forced back to school and get injured? That could easily have been the case with Greg Oden had he stayed in school or any player could suffer a freak injury and lose their chance at a career in pro basketball.

CJ McCollumCJ McCollumThe rule isn’t going to have an impact on players such as Anthony Davis of Kentucky who turned his freshman campaign into a player of the year trophy and (presumably) the right to be picked first overall in the draft. This rule hurts players like Royce White of Iowa St., CJ McCollum of Lehigh, Will Barton of Memphis, and Quincy Miller of Baylor who are all exceptionally talented but will be risking a lot if they decide to enter the draft without as much info as possible. Because the rule doesn’t affect the so-called “big names” casual fans don’t notice the huge disservice the NCAA is doing to the players that help bring in billions of dollars to the NCAA.

Another reason schools allow this rule is because it helps them in recruiting. The sooner they know if a player is staying or leaving, the sooner they know whether they need to replace him, or if they’ll be able to offer that 5 star recruit they’ve been eyeing a starting spot from day one. It all amounts to college basketball trying to exert too much control. It comes down to what is best for the NCAA and their bank account, not what’s best and ultimately right, for the young men that make college basketball possible.

Even NBA commissioner David Stern trashed the deadline, and villified the NCAA for forcing their players to make bad decisions that they must live with for the rest of their lives. Stern is right, but his league’s rules prevent players from going to the pros out of high school so he’s only marginally less guilty. With the lockout, he had much bigger issues to deal with this past offseason, though. Sure, if he really wanted to look out for these young players he could allow players to turn pro right out of high school, but that’s not his battle to fight. It is however, Emmert’s and the NCAA’s job to help these young players, but they’re too busy exploiting them for the gain of the NCAA at the expense of the players themselves.

These players aren’t wanting to do anything more than get feedback from NBA teams to decide if it would be wise to declare or come back to school. It’s not as if the schools get nothing out of it. There have been plenty of instances over the years of a player declaring for the draft only to get told by teams that they aren’t ready, which leads to the player coming back and expanding their game and becoming much better players in order to help their teams along with their draft stock. The way the rule is currently constructed, it deprives the prospective pros of the opportunity to work out for teams, meaning they’d be taking huge risks if they want to chase their dreams. Is that really the message the NCAA should be sending to their student-athletes?

It’s easy to understand the rule, and the NCAA’s reason for wanting it. It helps better the product on the court by forcing some players that would be first round picks back to the college ranks for another year and allowing coaches to fill needs on their teams. The NCAA is looking out for itself, and that is understandable. However, it’s beyond unethical for Emmert and company to do it at the expense of the players that are making them so much money. Emmert wants to simplify the rule book and use some common sense in running college athletics. Here’s the first step, get rid of the early deadline to declare for the draft because, to paraphrase Mark Jackson: Mark Emmert, you’re better than that.

phila9012
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thank you

I do not understand why the NCAA doesn't freeze recruiting and allow the players till the end of April to be evaluated by the NBA and then make them make the decision whether to stay or go by April 30th. It doesn't hurt anyone if they do.

akhan786
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Please make this story go

Please make this story go everywhere. This has to be a problem well known throughout ALL of the college basketball fan base.

If the fans know and get pissed off like I am right now, than the NCAA has to do something because it is pretty much abusing the players they just made a quick buck off of.

I'm not part of the contingent that says colleges should pay players (too complicated, and these kids are getting a free education...), but this is an outright exploitation of many young men.

SFNBAFan
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The Deadline is April 29

The deadline for college players to declare for the draft and then return to school (assuming they don't hire an agent) is April 10, but the deadline for college players to declare for the draft isn't until April 29. Any of the Kentucky or Kansas players playing tonight have almost four weeks to decide whether to declare for the draft, and can use that time to evaluate their draft status without declaring.

Beck934
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SFNBAFan... in what world is

SFNBAFan... in what world is April 10th 4 weeks from April 3rd? If they don't decide by the 10th, they won't be allowed back in college! That's actually one week, unless you're counting the 25 minutes they'll have from the time their game finishes tonight to midnight as 1 day.

SFNBAFan
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That's nonsense

They don't have to decide by April 10. If they declare *before* April 10, they can then change their mind and come back by withdrawing on or before April 10. The deadline to declare is April 29. They can take the time between April 2 and April 29 to weigh their decision and declare. There's no reason anyone has to declare for the draft before assessing his options.

paopgpy
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Please Make This Story Stop

Sorry for the long post, this gets me a little fired up!

Look, simply throwing out there that the NCAA has made a poor decision and then saying the whole world needs to know about it is silly. You have'nt provided a viable answer nor even a start to one really (at least not a well thought out one).

First and foremost, to say that the NCAA is simply using players is absolutely nonsense. And I do not mean in the sense that they are providing players an education (which is absolute crap by the way, more on this later). The NCAA is providing a marketable, palatable forum for talented young men to display their talents to future employers. PLEASE name me one other teachable profession where this is provided. Its not. Yes the NCAA makes all the money, its their Mona Lisa, you don't like it go play somewhere else (i.e. see Jennings, Brandon).

Second, to say these kids are student athletes is an absolute joke. They only need to register for full time status, which is like 12 credit hours (most of us took 15-20) and then they only need to really participate in 2 quarters. Of which, if they get put on Academic Prob, they have a quarter to "fix" it. And if they don't they get booted from school (i.e. see Melo, Fab prior to his declaration). There have been many articles written on this.

And finally, though I vehemently dispise David Stern, I am with him on this one 100%. You name me 1 profession that doesn't get to define the characteristics of their employees. Name one!!! You can't, it doesnt exist. My career happens to REQUIRE A COLLEGE EDUCATION. Why on god's beautiful green earth can the NBA not REQUIRE their employees to have whatever level of education the NBA so decides? Or better yet, lets not put it in terms of education, lets talk experience. Should the NBA put out an ad "Now Hiring Qualified Ballers With NO PROFESSIONAL Experience"? Now lets replace the word "Ballers" with doctors, teachers, engineers etc etc etc. They would be an absolutely ridiculous organization if they did not require some level of experience. The NBA has simply stated publicly and in their rules that high school level athletics is not a viable attribute for employment.

And really, I feel, for the betterment of each product that the both of them need kids to be at the college (or international) level greater than 1 year. Is it 2? 3? 4? 20? I dont rightly now. But I expect 2 or 3 is gonna be right. That being said I also believe that if a kid chooses (and it is a choice) to go to a NCAA sanctioned school, that kid should be required to participate in a full scholastic program and pass at a certain level of competency in said program (I had to). If you are gonna be a student athlete...then be a student athlete. Furthermore I believe the NCAA can very realistically provide for these kids and their families in a mostly neutral way across the schools, therefore providing some level of compensation beyond just an education. Hell, if they were smart they would try to work a partership with the NBA (sorta like D-League) and get the NBA to share compensation responsibilities.

Scott42444
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I agree about he double standard the NBA faces....

... In regards to the backlash at requiring its players to be 1 year removed from their high school's graduation. There is no reason why they couldn't require "at least 2 years of college or international professional experience" like so many jobs I apply for require. The issue was that at the time the rule was implemented, the majority of the All-Star game was filled with guys who didn't go to college. The 2 most popular players in the league then (and even now) were LeBron and Kobe, who didn't play any college ball and didn't need too. LeBron was on the cover of Sports Illustrated claiming that he would be the #1 pick after his junior year and that he might challenge the then rule that you needed to graduate from high school.

I don't see any problem with the NBA doing it for not only the players but ALSO for their franchises who had a decidedly hard time scouting the high school ranks and determining the talent that was there (right, Jerry Krause?). The product on the floor in the NBA is better now than it was in the early to mid 2000's, and I do believe that making the kids go to college and actually experience it is a major part of it.

Scal
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The NCAA organisation at fault

Ok, I'm not american this an european point of view,

Lot of people are saying that players (btw please people stop calling college players kids that's an insult, my thought) need an education (?!). But what is an education? Going to classes makes you a better/wiser person than those who don't? People learn more doing their job in the real life than at school.

Another point is the amateurism concept of the NCAA ruling which is obviously obsolete has to be reformed. The world is changing, society changes and you have to accomodate to the flow of life. NBA has changed his rules many times throughout the last decades and the NCAA not much. I'm not saying that players have to be paid, I'm saying that players should be able to have contacts with professionnal, some advice directly man to man.

Lastly I've got a different point of view for young players going to Europe. Don't be surprised if in a decade few of the best 15/16 years old players in US come to big euro teams. Those teams can provide an education equal if not better (with a personal tutor), have an arranged planning in order to have 2 practice a day, and many other advantages that the amateur program can't provide.

MeaghansDad
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The education isnt free. My

The education isnt free. My stepson was a D1 athlete and the amount of travel, practice and game time that these athletes spend is amazing. Whether or not they should be paid is a different argument altogether, but the education is "free" in classical economic theory, because a price is being paid for the education that their receiving.

paopgpy
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mostly missed the point i guess

Another long one....NBADRAFT.net...can a brother get a job please? HAHA

Scott... I think we agree mostly, however I would find it awfully hard to make a buisness decision based on 2 (or more than likely 8-10 during that timeframe, i am guessing here) examples of a high school kid making the jump. To my understanding, and in my opinion, Lebron is the ONLY high school player to make a credible impact on the game his first couple of years out. Some (read: Kobe) have been quite good, but not #1 selection possible MBP bad A$$ like Lebron. Furthermore, it would be interesting to do some research on high school drafted kids, set a baseline of effectivity (ie. +/- maybe? no sure here) and see which kids in their first say 3 years meet that. Then from a buisness angle decide which is better for the NBA product.

Furthering the above discussion, the NCAA has got to be analytically looking at this situation as well. Allowing 1 and done athletes has got to lower the overall quality of basketball, but does it lower the overall value? I have to believe it does, but I have no hard numbers to back it. I think an example is seeing the quality of basketball in the NBA rise as the age limit increased, again my opinion. So finding a way to quanitify that would have to be the first step in, what I believe would be, improving the product and value by requiring longer service.

Beacuse lets face it, both products are about value.

Scal... Not sure where to begin, I think I am pretty solid in the fact that 17, 18 & 19 yr olds are KIDS. Dont know how that is different in Europe, but oh well. Once they grow up a bit, have some experience in life, start taking care of themselves and families, then they can be called men (and women). Its earned not granted. As for school not being effectual compared to real life, that is an 100% inaccurate, indefensible statement. There have been countless studies that prove that higher education provides unequalled value. And this is regardless of worldly location. Absolutely job and life experience are invaluable educators as well. This is what is most commonly referred to as being "well-rounded". Devaluing one is absolute lunacy.

I dont agree with your arguement on the NCAA amutuer thing, but I agree with the statement.

As for the European game being some primary outlet for American youth basketball. I think Brandon Jennings was an exceptional example of this. However a couple kids have tried since and seemingly failed (Tyler, Jeremy). I said it is an option, not probably a definite. I feel this way because the Euro game is such a different animal then the collegiate or NBA game. I am not sure this is the "right" answer for most kids, but it is absolutely a viable option. FIBA and international leagues absolutely should be structuring their programs to accept and train American high schoolers, no doubt. Its just smart buisness. I do feel that with some work the AAU experience could become a viable funnel into professional ball without the college experience (think US Olympic structure, U-19, U-18 etc). I think there might be a way to work it like that as well. These options have got to be haunting the NCAA, if they aren't well, the NCAA is in more trouble then we think.

MeaghansDad, your is point well taken. However in the case of the 1 and done, which is the basis of the article, it becomes very difficult to define how free the product is. In fact suggesting that kids get compensated would suggest that their "free educations" are not worth the value of their participation, would it not? How possibly could the NCAA roll that one out? I certainly think it does say that though; particluarly when the students, as I previously stated and has been well recorded in the news, are not REQUIRED to actually be educated. In fact how can you REQUIRE class participation then label it free? This is the cyclical arguement that really ends with the NCAA is exploiting these kids behind a smokescreen of helping them with their education. In the 1 and done world this is absolute crap!

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