“Obviously the NBA doesn’t have to concern themselves with us so much.”

Seth Emerson does a nice job pushing back on the Mark Cuban canard about the one-and-done rule being the fault of the NCAA.  Unfortunately, once you get past that, there’s an overwhelming sense of “so what?”.  Nobody outside of the folks who’ve stroked big checks to high schoolers who flopped at the professional level thinks the current eligibility structure serves a good purpose.  And everybody knows nothing can change without the consent of the NBA.

“The hope now is that with the new NBA commissioner that maybe there’s a chance for progress there. Because we certainly we need the NBA to address it,” Fox said. “That’s ultimately whose guidelines we end up reacting to. And it is my belief that if a kid is good enough to go after high school, but if they go to college, like we do in football, like we do in baseball, require them to stay for three years. Because I think it would make not only our game better, but their game better. But we definitely need the cooperation of the NBA for that.”

Fox is right, for a number of reasons.  But it matters little to the NBA or the NFL.  And the colleges don’t have the leverage to make that change.  Neither do the kids.

This is why I can only shake my head when I see comments defending the current arrangement as fair to the student-athlete.  The NFL cuts off a professional outlet for kids less than three years out of high school who wish to earn a living off their best skills.  While the NCAA isn’t at fault for that, it certainly has taken advantage of the situation by using an archaic amateurism policy to lock away those same players’ ability to earn something from their likenesses while schools exploit those for their own benefit.  However you want to describe the current arrangement, “free market” ain’t any part of it.

In fairness to the NCAA, I do think it would welcome the opportunity to restructure the rules in the direction suggested by Fox and Stallings in Emerson’s piece.  That would make for a cleaner arrangement for those who don’t want to go to college and give the NCAA a more defensible position.  It’s too bad that Maurice Clarett wasn’t exactly an attractive poster boy for the cause.  You wonder if somebody like, say, Tim Tebow after his Heisman season might have been more successful with a challenge to the existing order.  Maybe not, but one thing’s for sure.  You won’t see the NCAA doing anything about it.

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18 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

18 responses to ““Obviously the NBA doesn’t have to concern themselves with us so much.”

  1. Ugh! “Archaic amateurism policy.” I hear a lot of complaining, and little solution offering. What is your proposed system?

    • Solution offering? Is there somebody who’s listening to me?

      If you’re looking for proposals, search the archives. I’ve been posting on this topic for a long time.

      • Huntin

        I know, i’ve been listening to you for years. I still don’t know what your solution is for professional/student athlete world. Especially for college football.

        • Let’s see… off the top of my head, I’ve suggested:

          • kids should be allowed to have legal representation before signing NLI/scholarship offer
          • kids should be allowed to profit off their own names/likenesses, with the schools’ participation, if necessary
          • kids should be allowed to sign with an agent under managed conditions without losing their eligiblity
          • Senator, I agree with you. A couple of questions about your suggestions:
            1) What stops a high school athlete from having legal representation during the recruiting process? I thought the NLI was an NCAA document that the school can’t change.
            2) I agree about profiting on their names/likenesses, but not sure I agree with the concept of the schools’ participation in the trading on names/likenesses because I would think that would open up a Title IX issue an attorney could drive a truck through. Also, I don’t think the athlete should be able to use university trademarks as part of the process.
            3) Agree in priniciple with your comment about agents but agents are going to operate outside the system whenever possible – unless these guys register with the NCAA, you have the potential of a system that will implode.

          • Huntin

            I appreciate your response.

            New thoughts:

            Allowing a college football player to profit from his participation in college athletics creates a class system for college athletes. A “‘semi-pro” class, and then the true college athletes.

            Legal representation? Sure. They can do that now. I guess you are suggesting that the colleges should pay for it?

            Sign with an agent? Ok, but again, I don’t like the idea of having a college player paid for his participation in college athletics for the reasons above, and I think that allowing agency will invariably result in those payments.

            I love your suggestion in your newest post today that the athlete should be absolutely guaranteed the opportunity to earn his bachelor’s degree. During his eligibility, after, throughout the course of his life he should be able to take classes and apply them toward graduation for free. Absolutely that should be part of the deal.

            And here is a cut-and-paste from my comment yesterday:

            A very few college athletes that have the capability to profit from their athletic ability (as a percentage of total college athletes) don’t get paid, and don’t make money from their signatures, pictures, etc. Most would never have that opportunity – golfers, gymnasts, swimmers, volleyballers, etc. They all have the same type of obligations to their respective sports. The 5am swims for the swim team don’t seem particularly fun, for example.

            And most college athletes are involved in college sports because they love the game and they get a free education. The free education part invariably is devalued by the staunch advocates of college pay-for-play. The lacrosse players, swim teamers, and gymnasts certainly recognize the fact that they aren’t there for the post-graduate professional sports opportunities. They play the game and put in the time for the love of the game and the free education. It is, despite the arguments to the contrary, a very big deal not to have student loans.

            I see the merit of both sides. I don’t want to see college football devolve into a purely professional league. I think it would be the absolute death of the game. But on the other hand, I do think college athletes that can’t afford an acceptable standard of living should receive some type of additional financial aid. I don’t think that additional aid should only go to the stars.

            Sure, the schools profit from football and basketball. Is your solution to pay all the players? Is it a set salary for all players? Or only the good ones? What about small schools? Is Bama allowed to outbid the world for the best running back? Then is your argument that a set salary is hypocritical?

            My last thought is that the problem is that we have a pretty clear line in the sand. It is either a professional sport, or it isn’t. If it is, I think it loses its value and has a lot of negative consequences.

            • Thanks for the response.

              Allowing a college football player to profit from his participation in college athletics creates a class system for college athletes. A “‘semi-pro” class, and then the true college athletes.

              Since any student-athlete would be allowed to pursue his/her market value, I’m not sure why your point is meaningful. Keep in mind, you’ve already got a situation where a kid can sign a professional contract to play one sport, be paid handsomely to do so, and then return to school to play another sport.

              Legal representation? Sure. They can do that now.

              No, they can’t. But they should be able to.

            • Governor Milledge

              I think the Senator also stands by (1) the notion of having a guaranteed 4 year scholarship, as well as (2) if an offer is made and accepted, even to a 14 year old 8th grader, the university would be bound by its offer.

              One problem with the 4 year guaranteed scholarship is that it opens up income tax concerns… I’d have to brush off my notes, but as I recall, if the scholarship is guaranteed for >1 year, it is treated as taxable income under the current tax code.

  2. And I mean for college football.

  3. If they like their D-League so much, and are willing to do the stuff Cuban said (provide some educational opportunities on life skills and so forth), here’s what the NBA should do. If you go to college, you have to stay 2 years (I think 3 years is too long of a requirement for basketball. It would be great for the college game, but it won’t ever pass). But for the guys coming out of high school that don’t want to go to college:

    Allow players to be drafted directly out of high school.
    However, they must spend at least one full season in the D-League
    As an incentive though, if the team has made the playoffs, they can “Call up” a first year player once the D-League season has concluded and play them for the playoffs, kinda like you see happen with guys called up towards the end of the MLB season.
    After a year in the D-League, the player can join the NBA team full time the following year.

    This gives the guys a year to develop their skills and develop their bodies, get some coaching on life skills, etc, all the stuff the NBA said when they were trying to accomplish when they put the 1 year rule in place.

    The biggest objection I can see to this as an NBA GM would be when it comes to the draft. Having to choose between a guy who is coming out of college and can help my team immediately, or a guy coming out of high school who might have a higher ceiling, but I can’t reap any of his benefits for at least a year.

    • I think the NBA will give something to the players, and push through a two year requirement at their next CBA. Though I do agree with Fox and Reverand about changing it to an out of high school or stay for 3 years deal in college, with the NBA D League covering the gap for those out of high school as needed. It can help the DL considerably in getting some more attention and attendance, help college, help the pro game, some kids can get paid if they need but flame out on the cheap if that’s what’ll happen unlike say Lenny Cooke or Darius Miles or Jonathon Bender or Leon Smith, etc.

      • Governor Milledge

        Jonathan Bender doesn’t quite fit on your list… he was a LT bench rider for the Trailblazers after being drafted out of HS, but after he was traded to the Pacers for Dale Davis, he had a pretty decent NBA career.

        Multi-year locking in players to CBB would only help the middle teams grow… teams like Butler keep guys for 4 years as-is, since the players they usually recruit are physically lacking/underdeveloped in some way. UK and Duke will always be UK and Duke… but a school like UGA could benefit from being able to build a basketball culture YoY, and with elite recruits knowing what sort of situation they would be joining.

        Interesting roster expansion (ala September callups) idea, Rev. In baseball though, the roster is expanded solely for the regular season and not for the postseason.

  4. ASEF

    Unbelievable how much ink Cuban’s suggestion has received, when it actually affects perhaps, on average, 3 or 4 people a year.

    The NCAA sucks. But it’s amusing to see how many bad ideas that would otherwise get laughed out of the room get traction simply because “it’s better than what the NCAA is doing.”

  5. Moses Malone

    Yeah, nobody can succeed in the NBA coming straight out of high school so we shouldn’t allow that.

  6. I disagree with you on one point, which is probably only academic. The problems you are describing are quite – maybe even singularly – “free market.” The NCAA, the NBA, the NFL are all private organizations. They are exploiting free/cheap labor for as long as they possibly can. The gaming of the system by one private organization or entity so as to exploit another less powerful entity is a defining characteristic of the free market since time immemorial. I’m ignoring of course – mostly because it’s inconvenient to my argument – the relevance of public vs. private universities and the existence of antitrust exemptions. But the point remains – it is not the government who is limiting the rights of these kids to profit from their likenesses (etc.) – at least not directly – it is the universities and the NCAA.

    It doesn’t make it right, understand – I agree with everything else you said. I just think these problems exist in all free markets.

    • The NFL has an antitrust exemption. Most members of the NCAA are public institutions with tax exemptions. Most professional sports facilities built in this country are paid for at least in part by the public sector.

      The government’s hand is in there, believe me.