The story about the NCAA reconsidering its rule about letting basketball players declare for the NBA draft but allow them the opportunity to return to college under certain conditions with their eligibility intact is interesting for what it says about what the NCAA is struggling to do with its amateurism protocol.
But I wonder how much of an impact it would really have if the policy were extended to football, as SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey has hinted might be under consideration. Take a look at this chart:
% of student-athletes who declared for NBA draft, but were not selected
- 2015 – 34.04
- 2014 – 36.36
- 2013 – 37.7
- 2012 – 30.6
- 2011 – 30.95
% of student-athletes who declared for NFL draft, but were not selected
- 2015 – 25.6
- 2014 – 37
- 2013 – 30
- 2012 – 18
- 2011 – 23
In 2014, the percentage of college football players actually declaring early but not being drafted exceeded that of college basketball players, but look what happened this year. And if you’re wondering why, it’s because the NFL got more persuasive about the odds.
The decrease in players leaving school early for the NFL came a year after the league altered its evaluation process – limiting schools to just five draft-eligible underclassmen it can request evaluations for and altering the information that players receive.
Previously, five different grades were handed out by the NFL Draft Advisory Board: As high as the first round; as high as the second round; as high as the third round; no potential to go in the first three rounds; and no potential to be drafted.
That was cut to three categories this year: first round, second round, and neither – which is the board advising the player to stay in school.
Look, as much as these coaches like to say it’s a rule change that favors the players, it’s really about the rule favoring college coaches, by letting them keep the talent around longer. The question I have is how much a change by the NCAA would really matter, given the effect education has had. Let’s face it – it’s not like the NFL needs these kids to come out a year early. If they don’t, it’s one less year they get paid.