The Pac-12 presidents have a bug up their collective butts about the NBA’s eligibility rule. Evidently, they’ve had all they can take on one-and-done and are ready to do something about it. Something dumb.
The item was No. 7 on a 10-point list for NCAA reform ideas that Pac-12 presidents and chancellors sent their Power Five colleagues last May.
7. Address the “one and done” phenomenon in men’s basketball. If the National Basketball Association and its Players Association are unable to agree on raising the age limit for players, consider restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men’s basketball.
Several conference commissioners say it’s time to consider making freshmen — or at least some of them — ineligible, again, for the first time since the NCAA rule changed in 1972.
Let’s get past the immediate consequence of such a move – John Calipari’s business model would be completely blown up, as no very highly rated high school senior will likely enroll in college again – and look at the tangled web being weaved as these wise men try to come up with justifications that sound more noble than “we don’t like being used by the NBA”.
The opposition to freshman ineligibility would be heated — and some conference commissioners strongly oppose it already. Others believe now is the time to consider it again given court cases that could allow players to be paid, congressional scrutiny into college sports and a unionization attempt to make Northwestern football players designated as employees. A new lawsuit against the NCAA and North Carolina attacks the heart of the NCAA’s stated mission: Are enough high-profile college athletes truly being educated?
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said there is “almost a uniform acknowledgment that there’s kids in college that don’t have any interest in an education and don’t have the proper education to take advantage of an education.” Bowlsby said freshman ineligibility would have a “profoundly positive effect” on football and men’s basketball by easing the transition from high school without the distractions of competition.
“I think there’s a growing interest in a robust debate, and I think we ought to drag it to the ground and consider it any way we can,” Bowlsby said. “I think it is the one change that could make an absolutely dramatic difference in college athletics.”
Oh, so now you want to talk about educating them, those “… kids in college that don’t have any interest in an education and don’t have the proper education to take advantage of an education”? (By the way, since we’re being all brainy and academic here, shouldn’t it be “who” instead of “that”?) How exactly does a year without sports light that fire? (Please note that I’m not talking about a kid needing time to acclimate himself to the college life; that’s a different story and one where I can concede not playing freshman season can have an impact.) But if a kid doesn’t care and doesn’t have the academic background coming in, how can you fix all that just by denying him sports for a season?
Keep in mind, I mention this here because while the impetus comes from the NBA rule, the rationale for the move could apply to any collegiate sport, including our favorite.
Another thing about Bowlsby’s comment here worth noting is that we’re now heading into the new era of raised NCAA high school academic standards, where kids have to have a certain amount of core curriculum studies, along with better grades and test scores, to be eligible for college athletics. Is Bowlsby dismissing that before it’s even been tested?
And let’s not forget, as Solomon points out, there’s already something a school can do for a kid who comes in academically unprepared.
Players who meet the old academic standards — but not the new ones — can receive an academic redshirt. It’s a new version of the old partial qualifier with one important exception — the player does not lose a year of eligibility. Academic redshirts can receive a scholarship and practice with their teams but cannot compete. If they pass nine credit hours in their first semester, they can compete the next season as a redshirt freshman.
So let’s face it. This is largely bullshit. Although, in typical thinking from the idiots running the sport, putting limits on the kids instead of punishing institutions that are guilty of academic fraud, or putting the screws to schools who try to sound serious but are simply addressing academics with a mere wink and a nod (“Bobby Petrino gets $500,000 for getting five points above the minimum APR.”) makes more sense. Because you don’t have to work as hard to make yourself feel better. With the NCAA, a little hypocrisy is good for the soul.