In the wake of the Big Ten Conference announcing it is exploring the possibility of making freshman football players and men’s basketball players ineligible for their first year of competition, Rick Pitino is speaking out and saying that he is in favor of letting the young men enter the NBA Draft if they desire.
Under this possible rule change in the Big Ten, incoming freshman would be ineligible to play their first year with the idea that it would allow them to become more well adjusted to the college life. However, if no other conference (the Big XII and Pac 12 are currently interested with this notion as well) decides to do this, it will severely hamper the ability for the Big Ten to recruit.
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany claims this idea would be putting college back in front of the term “college-athlete.” Much like we hear countless times about putting student back in front of “student-athlete.” But at what point is it no longer in the best interest of the student-athlete and just becomes a way of sidelining or jeopardizing their future?
Rick Pitino, head coach at Louisville, thinks the students should have the right to enter the draft. He’s right, they should. The NBA will bring this up in their next round of negotiations for the collective bargaining agreement in 2017 and it will be hotly contested. Of course, if NBA commissioner Adam Silver has his way — and if there is a podium and press there, he will have his way — the league would not only not allow kids to jump from high school to the pros, but not allow them into the league until they are 20.
“I’m very much in favor of high school kids going pro,” said Pitino, who will lead Louisville against Northern Iowa in a round-of-32 NCAA tournament matchup Sunday, during his pregame comments Saturday. “I had six young men commit to me out of high school that didn’t go to college, that went to the pros. I’m very much for that because they didn’t want college. They wanted to go to the NBA. And if they go to the [NBA Development League], that’s fine with them. But the six-, seven-month education, online classes second semester. I don’t know what that does for a young person.”
We would enter the new era of “two-and-done” and if this era starts, then you can bet the idea of making freshman ineligible would gain more steam. They would have to be out of school two years anyway, right? Why not make them sit for the first year and learn how to go to college?
Of course, there is the other option the kids have and that is to go overseas. You can bet that will become a much more popular option for them to spend their first two years out of high school.
If you’re one of the best players in the nation would you rather play pro basketball, get experience and get paid for two years before entering the NBA draft? Or would you rather go to college, sit out a year, then play one season where you may or may not win a National Championship all while having to go to class and take exams? All of latter assuming you’re not enrolled at North Carolina. Zing.
Not all coaches feel the same way Pitino does. Coach John Calipari at Kentucky is in favor of a two year stay for college-athletes. And why wouldn’t he? He rules the college basketball recruiting world and loads his teams every year. Imagine if he could retain some of that talent for just one more year.
Tom Izzo at Michigan State is in favor of college-athletes staying longer at their respective schools. He gave a rather odd comparison, but I think I picked up what he was laying down.
“Like everything else in the world, smoking cigarettes was cool, then after research of years and years and years, it develops lung cancer,” Izzo said at a news conference Saturday. “So we change our thoughts. We have not researched where a large majority of these guys that come out early [are]. … Some day, 10 years from now, there’s going to be a study of how many kids came out and ended up on the streets. That’s the crime of this whole thing.”
So if the Big Ten, Big XII and Pac-12 all lobby for a freshman ineligibility rule, wouldn’t that make things a lot easier for the NBA to pass, without much backlash, a new rule that wouldn’t allow players to enter the league before they are 20? Wouldn’t it feel an awful lot like the two organizations were working together to make “two-and-done” a thing?
Both questions were rhetorical.
There will always be two sides to this argument and no side is more right, or wrong, than the other. In the best interest of the athlete, I would think you have to let them pursue their career as soon as they are ready. If that is when they are 18-years-old, then why should the NBA, or the NCAA, be able to block them from the league for two years?