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Time To Think Differently?

JaRon Rush is
talking about his mistakes, saying he's a "just a stupid kid just doing stupid
things."  That's fair, and he's also right when he suggests that it's
harder for a poor kid to say no to cash than a rich kid.  It doesn't mean
he should have done it, but it's a fair observation.  He hopes to be back

Andre Williams, of  Oklahoma State who is being asked to repay his
tuition - that's a tricky one.  On the one hand, the guy who paid it,
Kansas booster Tom Grant, says he has done a lot of altruistic things for a lot
of kids, and that's probably true. However, he also funded Myron Piggie and
contributed to what looks increasingly like an ugly situation. 

It seems to us that the NCAA is in some ways making a bad situation
worse.  First of all, though they sometimes clearly benefit, and are
corrupted, the kids aren't the ones tossing around the big money. 
Secondly, if the goal is to educate young men - and we seriously believe that
guys like John Chaney are employing their scholarships and influence correctly -
asking Williams to pay the tuition back is pretty unfair.  As Grant points
out, he just doesn't have it and he can't easily get it, so where does that
leave him? Why not offer Grant the chance to make amends instead?

Again, this is a situation where the NCAA, in its Byzantine wisdom, is making
things more complicated rather than less - and looking cruel as well. Here's
what we are looking at - the NCAA has six billion dollars to play with.  In
order to keep that kind of money coming in they have to retain reasonable talent
and market it accordingly.  The NBA, which is in a clear state of decline,
is raiding the college and high school games for younger and younger players,
who in many cases never fully develop their skills.  So the NBA suffers.
The players who don't make it have neither wealth nor education. So what to do?

Well this is one of those occasions where fresh thinking is needed. 
Rather than allowing the whole stinking business to sink into corruption, what
if there were a partnership between the NCAA and the NBA and the Players
Union?  And what if between the 6 billion the NCAA has to work with and the
resources of the NBA and the Union they set up a fund to pay for prep school for
kids who were close but not quite there academically?   The players
could pay it back if they made the NBA - it could be deducted from their
contract, a pittance, and the league and the Union could afford to donate a
certain amount.  But since almost none of them would make it, they could
repay it as a student loan upon graduation from college - preferably interest
free, since most of these scholarships would probably go to minority students
who often have nothing to start with.   Or as an option, rather than
paying off the loan, the student could commit to four years of college, at which
point the loan would be forgiven.

We've always thought that the great selling point the NCAA has is in offering
student-athletes a chance to get an education and then start life debt-free and
with a world of contacts and resources. If you actually get your degree, it's a
great deal. Just ask anyone with 30 or 40 thousand in student loans.  Trust
us, it's a sweet deal.

Aside from the obvious benefits - eliminating some of the nonsense around
recruiting,  retaining and developing players - it would also put the NCAA
and the NBA firmly on the side of education.  Since getting a job in the
NBA is almost impossible, and keeping it more than a year is daunting, it would
be in everyone's interest to stress education. Even with all that money they could never fund everyone. But they could fund a lot, and education is the target, right?