Frank Burlison has an interesting column up on the new rule in summer hoops
conversation between recruiters and the guys who are coaching the recruits.
Lute Olson thinks it's a swell idea, and there probably is some merit to
it. It is still in some ways nibbling around the edges though, and avoids
some very basic issues. For instance: the overwhelming force in the
game now is money, and the AAU coaches have caught on to that, naturally.
idea that a 19th century British definition of amateurism is still in any way
viable in that environment is increasingly bizarre. There's still a lot of
merit to promoting education, and since the vast majority of college athletes
will never play professionally, education should be vigorously promoted and if
necessary, force-fed. That's a basic obligation the schools have.
But much like the drug war, the cost of suppressing the natural market is a
black market. You can do that, but you have to be cognizant of the
cost. In this case, part of the cost is whatever remains of amateurism,
and that money will find a way to willing hands regardless of obstacles that are
put in the way.
It just seems to us that the NCAA and the NBA could work
together on this, and establish a career track for legitimate high-level
athletes. There will always be some guys who want to go immediately and
don't want to bother with school. Their loss, but their choice.
Those who do go to college and have legitimate NBA prospects should get help in
building their career, both athletically and in a business sense.
rest, the two entities should form some ground rules. The NBA could adjust
the rookie scale to go up for players who stay in school longer. The NCAA
could establish incentives for graduation, and punish schools which don't
graduate players. Bob Knight's idea of withholding scholarships when
players don't graduate is an excellent starting point.
In a much more radical
move, the schools that are the real power of the NCAA - the ACC, SEC, Big East,
PAC-10, Big 12, and Big 10 - could set up a new organization, make players
employees, and classify education as a fringe benefit. This might allow a
structure where only revenue-sport athletes get paid. We're not saying it's a
good idea, but there's no way that the current structure makes sense, and sooner
or later, large-scale reform is inevitable. It might as well be imaginative and encompass the entire structure of the sport. If it's not, the reform might come from collapse.
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the good stuff: Burlison pegs Duke and Missouri as the favorites for Luol Deng, meaning that Coach K and Quin Snyder will go toe-to-toe for this kid.