The debate over paying college athletes seems never ending these days.
Yes, it’s interesting, and at some point, I believe there will be adjustments made to the scholarship system.
A more important discussion that affects both the players and the collegiate system is the “one-year” rule in basketball.
With the NBA forcing high school kids to be a year removed from preps forces these players to spend a year in college before bolting for the pros. It’s a revolving door that’s made life difficult on coaches and has led to a demise in the overall talent and entertainment of the college game.
Sure, these kids have every right to go overseas and earn a living or sit on the couch for 12 months and wait their turn, but that’s not going to ever happen in reality. The kind of basketball education they get at the collegiate level makes sure of that.
No coach has experienced the highs and lows of this system more than Kentucky’s John Calipari. He’s been bringing large freshmen classes for many Novembers before shuffling off most of those same kids to the NBA in June. It’s hard to feel sorry for Calipari. He did win a national championship in 2012 and went to the championship game in April by relying on one-and-dones.
However, there aren’t a lot of coaches who can pull this off.
“This cycle (we’ve been) on — and there were coaches last year that had freshmen and their primary guys were freshmen and couldn’t advance in the NCAA tournament and after said, ‘It is so difficult.’ Yeah, it is,” Calipari said Monday. “Well, let’s start five freshmen and try to do it. So to do this every year — in this environment, at Kentucky — is, I don’t want to say impossible, because for five years we’ve done it ... it’s just a dangerous thing for the coach.”
We’ll never go back to the days when Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant made the jump from preps to pros. Neither the NBA nor the courts would allow it.
But college coaches are holding out hope that a two-year rule could one day be instituted. Georgia’s Mark Fox said Monday he’s in favor of it because it would “help college and the NBA,” but Fox is unsure it would ever pass.
“You cannot do that unless the NCAA is gonna do things along with the NBA if kids are asked to stay another year,” Calipari said. “I mean, are you gonna do the cost of living? Are you gonna cover their insurance? What about loss of value insurance that’s really expensive? What about flying them back and forth once or twice a year? Why would we not do that? What about their families being flown to the NCAA events, championship events, with the teams? Why would we not do all those things? So we finally after five years of absolute arm-wrangling got the food right so that we can feed these kids without feeling we’re gonna go to jail and we’re criminals for feeding them.
“So there’s a lot of things we need to do. Now it’s taken 40 years, but we’re moving in that direction now.”
Calipari also brought up getting information so kids make the right decisions and letting them attend combines without losing college eligibility. He’d like to see the NBA change its rookie contract structure so players don’t have to rush into the draft and have loans available that families could pay back to the league after the draft.
It makes a lot of sense, but it’s hard to believe the NBA would ever sacrifice so much, even though Calipari sees progress.
Instead, the college game will continue to suffer, and kids will make decisions based on a system that won’t benefit them.
The NBA will do just fine.