A week ago, PAC-12 commissioner Larry Scott took major issue with the NBA’s age restriction policy, the collectively bargained law that states a player must be a year removed from high school in order to legally declare for the NBA draft. Since it was argued for and enacted in the summer of 2005, scads of “one and done” players have flocked to the NBA after their freshman year of college. Presumably, most of those plaeyers probably would have (rightfully) declared for the draft directly out of high school had the rule not been in place.
The NCAA hates this rule. It wants players to stick around for as long as the NFL requires, and it can’t stand losing potential superstars that could dominate CBS in March for years to the NBA at age 19 or 20. The NCAA is sick of Butler in the Final Four. It wants Kevin Durant from Texas, and Kevin Love of UCLA going at it, as juniors, instead. Here’s part of his speech, in a discussion with reporters last week (via Mike Tokito at the Oregonian):
“Anyone that’s serious about the collegiate model and the words ‘student-athlete’ can’t feel very good about what’s happening in basketball with one-and-done student athletes,’’ Scott told a small group of reporters at last week’s Pac-12 football media day.
“It’s crazy what’s going on,” Scott said. “We’ve managed with the NFL and football to have a reasonable policy that allows kids to go pro at the appropriate time. We’ve managed to do it in baseball. Basketball’s the only sport where we haven’t managed to come up with a responsible policy and the blame is with the NBA, the NBA Players Association and the NCAA, so now’s the time to take ownership of it. We’ve got time. We’ve made major changes in football. Now there’s time to make major changes in basketball.”
Oh, this guy. This guy right here.
First off, referring to “the words ‘student-athlete’” in 2013 is just an invitation to be laughed at. Just a few clicks around the NCAA’s search engine will extinguish that ideal.
Secondly, bringing up “the appropriate time” for a litany of players that come from disparate backgrounds that have dozens of different approaches, skill sets, positional chances, financial concerns, and growth rates is patriarchy at its worst. To top it off, it’s hard to think of many one-and-done players over the last few years that haven’t made hay at their “appropriate” particular time. Even a disappointment, like former Kentucky center Daniel Orton, has made nearly $2.9 million as a player thus far, with team options to make nearly $1.9 million over the next two years.
Let’s cut to the chase. Over the last five years, Mr. Scott’s conference has lost years of indentured servitude from players such as Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Shabazz Muhammad, James Harden, Jerryd Bayless, O.J. Mayo, DeMar DeRozan, and Jrue Holiday. Free years of starting-level NBA players (with the exception of Muhammad, who could still surprise in Minnesota as a pro) that the NCAA missed out on making money off of.
Instead, the players were compensated with salary for a skill that an employer wanted badly to hire and secure. Sort of how employment this country works, outside of the NCAA.
Things aren’t exactly crumbling for the NCAA. The Ed O’Bannon lawsuit and continued Johnny Manziel controversy may slightly embarrass the monolith for a spell, but too many massive entities stand to lose too much money for any significant change to take hold. In the meantime, people like Scott, fearful of the NCAA “only” getting a year of Andrew Wiggins (who could contribute in the NBA in 2013-14, spending more time working on his craft while dealing with proper competition), is only left to kvetch about what small mitigating factors that remain regarding the work he puts in to make heaps of money off of “student-athletes.”
It’d be laughable if it weren’t so damned frustrating.
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