How To Fix The NCAA / NBA One And Done Situation

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College basketball players (and football and any other revenue generating college sport, male or female) should be getting paid and or allowed to earn revenue.  That is not the NBA’s problem.  But just because it is not its problem, it doesn’t mean it can’t be part of the solution.  And it doesn’t mean the NBA can’t benefit from that solution.

One and done stinks.

It is not good for the college game – We’re now rooting for laundry and rivalries on muscle memory.   However they’re nothing like they use to be with the constant turnover of marquee players.

It’s not good for the NBA game – Players aren’t developed like they use to be, nor come into the game with the following they use to.

It is not good for the college players who aren’t getting paid for their skill – While comparisons to slavery are off-base, in high revenue generating sports, players not getting paid or being allowed to earn money is a gross form of exploitation.

One solution I’ve heard Jason Whitlock from FOX Sports talk about on his podcast is to somehow turn college basketball into the NBA’s minor league system and figuring out a way for NBA teams to help pay the players.  Whitlock goes on to talk about how the college game is hurting and improving it would be good for the NBA.  I agree.

Michael Jordan was so infatuated with North Carolinahe wore their practice shorts under his Chicago Bulls shorts his entire career.  Despite making far less money in their pro-careers, legends of the past, Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Isaiah Thomas, (the first), Patrick Ewing, John Stockton, etc., stayed in college longer and are more devoted to the institutions that didn’t pay them then the pro teams that did.  (Side note, don’t tell me there is no value from learning from Dean Smith, Mike KrzyzewskiJohn Thompson, John Wooden, etc., etc., and staying in school for more than a year.

Today’s NBA player, doesn’t have the loyalty of players past.  Today’s NBA player takes the path of least resistance and doesn’t want to overcome obstacles.  They want super teams.  Players use to team hop/ring chase at the end of their careers, most now look for the quick exit.  This isn’t “wrong”.  It is the player’s right, but is it good for the game?  Is this decreased loyalty and path of least resistance good for owners and fans?

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Considering the owners keep trying to change the salary cap and rules to create incentives for less player movement, I’m thinking the owners don’t like it.  Fans look at how past players, like Jordan, had to overcome the Detroit Pistons, who had to overcome the Boston Celtics AND  Los Angeles Lakers and how the game’s best competed against, and not with each other, as diminishing the accomplishments of today’s players looking for the easiest path.  And the saying, “well 20 years from now no one will remember”, is no longer true.  The explosion of the media/social media will assure distinctions that may have been lost in 1900’s will in fact be remembered.

So what’s the fix?

1 – The NBA and NCAA need to get together and make college basketball the                             official minor league system of the NBA.

2 – The best and most exciting way to do this is to allow NBA teams to draft                              players coming out of high-school if they choose to enter the draft.

3 – Before the start of each NCAA season, the NBA team will have the choice to                       bring the player up to the NBA team or have him play college ball.  Once the                       college season begins, the player is committed for the season, with a “minor                       league” salary.

4 – When that player’s college season is over, the NBA team could bring the player                 up (with pay) to help them for the rest of that NBA season without effecting his                 college eligibility for the following year.

For example, let’s say the Lakers drafted Lonzo Ball out of high school and after UCLA lost in the tournament they called him up.  The following season, the Lakers could have a choice at the start of the year.  One- have him play his sophomore year at UCLA or be with the Lakers from the start.

5 – Each season the pro-team has the player stay in college, the player gets an                            increase in salary.  Plus, players should be allowed to earn endorsements.

6 – All players should be able to earn a baseline salary (plus endorsements) that                       can be based on a percentage of revenue whether they are drafted by the NBA                     or not.

7 – If an NBA team chooses to bring up a player at the start of the NBA season,                         than his rookie contract would kick in, the team could not send him back to                         college, and he would forfeit the remainder of his college eligibility.

Under this formula, the players, the NCAA and NBA all have something to gain.  Players are getting paid right away.

Many would likely stay in school longer which should improve their development and perhaps would inspire loyalty and teach them about overcoming obstacles.  By sticking around maybe they win that NCAA title that they lost their freshman year, and make great relationships that they wouldn’t have.

Brief stints with the pro-team can show them what they need to work on and give them feel for NBA life so that by the next time they’re called up they’re more ready for it.
The player, NCAA and NBA would gain from the buzz of the elite players going back and forth from the college to the pro game once the player’s college season is over.
Player or team options to waive or re-enter the draft if the pro team doesn’t commit to the player at the start of an NBA season after year two, three or four can be worked out, but the above framework allows players to be paid right away and improves the college and pro-game.

Oh and did I mention, the media would have an absolute field day debating the decisions made by coaches as to when to take players, bring them up, send them down, etc..

There is some risk for the player in that if he doesn’t develop as projected his stock could lower (or rise), and he could be waived or lose his NBA rookie contract.  For the elite high school athlete this risk could be offset by endorsements and other earning opportunities.

There are kinks to be worked out but one thing is for sure, it is past time for college athletes (NCAA division I basketball and football specifically) to be getting paid something.
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Kevin Ware’s Injury Reminds Me It’s Time To Pay College Athletes

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What’s been said in theory can be said again in reality due to Louisville’s, Kevin Ware’s injury.  The college basketball star broke his bone in two places.  It was gruesome.  CBS made the decision not to show it up close and when they realized how horrific it was they stopped showing it altogether.

I applaud their intention but we all needed to see it more.  Not out of morbid curiosity.  But to understand the personal and career risk these young men take.  And how it’s long past the time to compensate athletes with more than room, board and free classes.

Yes, a college education is very valuable.  But for too long it has been used as a smoke screen to blur the exploitation of college athletes.

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I get that the money generated from men’s college basketball and football funds many other college programs. That doesn’t mean it is right to deny or keep payment from the work force that earns it.  Especially when, universities, networks, coaches, and so many others profit from it.

I also get that a function of Title IX is to ensures equality between men’s and women’s athletics.  Title IX is also to be applauded.  It has corrected a wrong and helped to elevate women’s sports and create opportunities that were previously unavailable.

However, if I have a job in car sales and my co-worker sells ten times more cars than me, he or she will make a lot more money in commission than I will.  This doesn’t mean I’m being treated unfairly.

In fact, it is common in sales that unless you reach your quota, which is to say reach a minimum amount of sales, you don’t make any commission, or it’s minimal.

There ought to be a revenue generating formula that can help determine which sports teams, male or female, in college are eligible to receive some form of payment that would not violate Title IX.

Further, there are other ways, outside sources, that can pay college athletes that would not take money from other programs or conflict with Title IX.

One:  allow boosters, alumni, or fans of a college program to contribute x-amount of dollars to a fund that pays players.

Second:  Allow college athletes to make money from endorsements.  That’s right, not only do colleges get away with exploiting these athletes and not paying them, they prevent them from making money from outside marketing opportunities.

Whether it’s from boosters or marketing, the income level could be capped to keep it in check and from giving the name schools too big of a recruiting advantage over smaller schools that wouldn’t be able to match it.

These young men, work hard, they play hard and many come from families in need.  It is past unreasonable to deny them some monetary compensation in addition to English 101.  Find a way.  Make it happen.  Because beyond the outpouring of immediate support from his teammates, coaches and twitter that will eventually fade, Ware and other athletes have earned it.