Monday, May 12, 2008

Should NBA remove minimum-age rule?

Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn does a great job articulating what we have been discussing here regarding the recent O.J. Mayo investigation. It's a must-read.

Essentially, Winn has two main points:

First, that USC coach Tim Floyd isn't dumb or naive enough to not have connected the dots and known that Guillory-arranged goods would be dirty. He had hoped the situation wouldn't implode and now that it has, Floyd and the rest of the USC athletic department are going to plead ignorance. While Winn says the Trojans deserve major penalties, he wouldn't be surprised if the NCAA and its mostly powerless investigative unit fails to prove any culpability for Floyd or USC.

Second, Winn questions the purpose of the NBA's minimum-age rule, which was adopted two years ago.

Winn lists some of the parties, beyond Guillory and BDA, who benefited by forcing super talents like Mayo and Michael Beasley to come to school for a year.

-USC, from ticket sales, Mayo jerseys ($75 each), increased exposure
-Magazines, from featuring Mayo on their cover
-TV Networks, from televising Mayo's games
-The NCAA, from "getting higher TV ratings due ratings due to the presence of young stars such as Mayo, Beasley, Kevin Love and Derrick Rose."

Which brings us to Winn's conclusion:

"When one takes off the basketball blinders and looks back at the recent Freshman Era, it's hard not to feel guilty about promoting the age limit as a positive thing, about trumpeting these stars as real collegians. Let players on the take jump straight to the NBA, if only so colleges don't have to deal with the Guillorys of the underworld and the rest of us don't have to endure the charade of labeling characters like Mayo 'student-athletes.'"

So that's my question to you guys: Should the NCAA remove its minimum-age ("one-and-done") rule?

I think Sonny Vaccaro makes it pretty clear how he feels about the rule in his interview on the Dan Patrick radio show. You can listen to it here.

A few of the highlights:

SV: "You have to blind-deaf not to understand that these kids are coming for one year and not to understand that there's really no dedication to the school they're going to. There's nothing that ties them to the school forever....When everyone's making money...and the kids are getting dreck, Dan, it's a very easy formula to understand. I'll say this till I die: It's not a fair system. They shouldn't be in school to begin with and there should not be a one-year purgatory. There's no way that should be human. It's not right."

SV: "My point is this: let them go out of high school. If they don't get drafted, let this institution called the NCAA take them back with open arms and then make them sign an agreement: you have to stay for three years. You eliminate the hypocrisy."

DP: It's not a "student-athlete" any more. It's an "athlete-student" and the NCAA should drop this nonsense.
SV: That's the fight I'm fighting and what I'm trying to get the public to understand. Just don't come down and beat on the kids. The most egregious parties are the universities and the NCAA."
DP: I know. The phrase "student-athlete" an oxymoron.

SV: "The kids are not innocent. There's no innocence to this at all. But they're put into a situation by the NCAA and by the NBA that they wouldn't have to be put in. Allow them to go pro. The one-year-and-out thing is the biggest fraud that the NCAA has ever come up with."

I don't know about you, but I'm in full agreement with Sonny. And he's not the only one who thinks that way.

Bobby Knight called it "the worst thing that's happened to college basketball since I've been coaching" and the New York Times' Harvey Araton agreed.

Araton also touched on the underlying racial element to this issue when he said this:

"After all these years, I am happy to agree with Knight on something, especially an issue that has long troubled me: the paternalistic attitudes regarding athletes and college, self-servingly tailored to keep a large base of African-American basketball players from having the same choices as high school graduates in baseball and hockey."

I know people don't usual like to talk about race, but I think Araton makes an interesting point.

Additionally, as CBSSportsline's Gary Parrish points out, "the make-it-to-the-NBA rate for top 10 high school prospects is remarkably high," which means there is no good reason that these highly-skilled players should be forced to spend a year in college pretending to be student-athletes when they're already good enough to play at the highest level.


Tony Arnold said...

Maybe the best solution is to do like baseball which would be a hybrid of what Sonny Vaccaro mentioned.

They can go right out of high school, but then they are done with their NCAA eligibility. If the come to college they have to stay 3 years.

I don't know how you handle the agent issue because the high profile kid has had the "family friend" handling him since Junior High. By the time he graduates high school, he is unofficially linked to an agent. It is a joke of a system.

David Shochat said...

Tony brings up a great point that I agree with. If the NBA are going to make players go to college they should make them stay three years. That way the players can at least get their degrees (with summer school classes like Earl did I believe) instead of just going to college, taking joke classes and then leaving. There is no point in making them go one year. They don't take class seriously because they know they are leaving after a year, might as well let them go to the NBA after high school. I know the NBA is concerned with players from high school making the jump and not getting drafted, but IMO if they are stupid enough to do that, it is their own faults. Worst case scenario, they can go to Europe and try and come back i believe, may be wrong about that though...

Also, think about college programs. The one year rule makes it hard on the programs because they are constantly having to take into consideration whether someone will leave early when they are recruiting. I believe that Coach K said that he hates the rule because he said if he brings in a player, he wants to know that the player will be in the program long enough to develop and help the program win games for more than one year.

Another point that people may not know about in the O.J. case is the rule about "runners". I believe the NCAA does not have any rule against "family friends" giving players gifts. Who is considered a family friend is a very grey area, but it is something to take into consideration. If that is really an exception, I wonder if there is a restriction in the rules from family friends getting gifts from agents, but I don't think that there is. Thus, even if it is clear that O.J. received gifts from that Guillory and Guillory got the money for the gifts from BDA, if O.J. and company can use that "family friend" clause, they may have a loop hole in the system that can't easily be closed. Think about it, if they don't allow legitimate family friends to give student athletes gifts, there will be an uproar about that. That Christmas present that your neighbor gives you??? Can't accept it because of NCAA regulations...that won't be easily passed. What the NCAA needs to do is specify what a family friend is if they don't already (maybe someone you or your family have known since you were eight or something...)

David Shochat said...

Just an add on to the whole "family friend" thing from Doug Gottlieb's blog on ESPN:

"In addition, USC landed Demar DeRozan, one of the two or three best players in a loaded California high school senior class. In addition to the DeRozan signing, Floyd will welcome in DeRozan's longtime buddy, Lil Romeo, who is reportedly worth more than $30 million and Master P is his father. It should be noted that P has coached DeRozan in AAU hoops and has acted like a surrogate father for years to DeRozan. It should also be noted that Master P has been a sports agent during his professional life, as well, and if USC looks into the dorm room shared by DeRozan and Romeo next year, I think there may be more than one flat-screen LCD hanging on the wall, and it will be completely legal."

Tony Arnold said...

DeRozan case just shows what a corrupt and easily worked system the whole thing is, especially AAU.

I guess everyone forgot what the letters AAU originally stood for!

Now it stands for Affluent Athletic Users