Tuesday, October 02, 2007

One Should Be Done

"One-and-done" is a familiar term to basketball fans these days. It refers to a player who completes one year in a college basketball program before declaring himself eligible for the NBA draft, a phenomenon made possible by the rules governing draft eligibility requiring a player to be at least one year removed from the graduation of his high school class before he can declare.

One-and-dones are a hot topic in college hoops. Some coaches embrace them, while others reject them, citing concerns about team chemistry. CBS Sportsline's Gary Parrish seems to reject that philosophy, and talks about how they benefit a program.

There's no denying one-and-dones have an effect, and Parrish's list is comprehensive, if not elaborate. Greg Oden and his collective of fellow single-year players got Ohio State to the title game for the first time in my lifetime, which becomes a more depressingly-long time by the season. Carmelo Anthony got Jim Boeheim the title that was the bugaboo of his coaching career synopsis. And now "Melo" has turned around and donated $3 million towards the construction of a $19m practice facility for the Orange, as well he should since no one knows better than a former athlete what his fellow athletes need to succeed.

So sure, one-and-dones can benefit a program.

But what about a school? You know, those buildings outside of the athletic part of the campus where classes allegedly go on?

As familiar with the Syracuse's athletes' needs as 'Melo might be, a lot of folks wonder how familiar he was with that non-athletic part of Syracuse. If you ask some of them, he didn't see the inside of a classroom after the Christmas holidays. "History of Rock And Roll" may have edified Mr. Oden culturally, but it's not clear how it advanced him towards any kind of meaningful degree. And since eligibility for the second semester of the season isn't determined retroactively, no rules were broken in either case because they went into that season fully "eligible".

That's the part of the one-and-done trade-off Parrish doesn't talk about.

What is a school saying when they admit a student who has absolutely no intention of following through on his studies for one year let alone one degree? How do you measure the academic integrity of a place that agrees to look the other way on classroom attendance if it gets them a few more victories on the hardwood? I know the phrase "student-athlete" is a laugh in a lot of places these days, but does the hypocrisy have to be so blatant? And when you look at the list and see respected centers of learning like North Carolina turning them out almost yearly, it almost makes you want to throw up.

The NCAA got a nice boost from the league with that one-year requirement. It enabled them to "showcase" some of the famous players they were losing to the draft, and no doubt make themselves a pretty penny in the bargain. So now is the time for them to step up to the plate and address the rampant academic fraud taking place as a result. Require schools to produce academic progress reports at least twice a month for all student athletes during a season. If an athlete fails on any of those reports, revoke his eligibility until the next report. If an athlete fails to complete a semester of work, revoke his eligibility retroactively.

I realize "normal students" can drop classes whenever they want. But "normal students" aren't on full scholarship and participating in a multi-million dollar activity in which they are ambassadors for their school. The mercenary nature of college basketball is becoming an affront to scholarship and sportsmanship. The NCAA either needs to drop the pretense or start practicing what it preaches.

And to head off the obvious first question, no, I wouldn't like ND to utilize one-and-done players. Notre Dame got to the top 20 in wins and win percentage without using mercenaries, and they should continue to do so. Scholarship means something in South Bend, as evidenced by a 100 percent graduation rate for players who use all of their eligibility. If it stops meaning something, I'd rather they just walk away.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering how many millions of dollars these schools make off the players I think it's about time they got paid. These coaches themselves make in the 6 figures at a minimum and at many big schools they earn millions. The NCAA does nothing but serve to cheat the athletes out of money that they would be able to make otherwise in a free market. The hipocracy of the NCAA stating how they are amateurs and shouldn't be paid is ridiculous. College sports are a multibillion dollar business and they have fooled the athletes into thinking it is proper for them to earn peanuts for their work. WOW a free college education- tuition plus room and board, what's that about 40,000 a year. These schools, nearly all division 1, make tens of millions of dollars off their athletic programs, if you don't believe me ask yourself this question, how can they afford to pay a coach a multimillion dollar salary? It doesn't add up. I can only hope that one day a lawyer figures this all out and files a lawsuit against the NCAA using their monopoly to able to cheat players like they have been.

10/02/2007 07:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just another example of why we're ND and they're not.

10/02/2007 07:46:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

Where do you draw the line, though? Should all players get the same money? How do you determine who gets paid what?

If the players are good enough to get paid for their work, they should go right to the NBA and get paid for that work. If being "taken advantage of" in college is so bad, they can play in Europe or the NDBL.

10/02/2007 07:50:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Coffey said...

For the record, my solution for the league draft is to model what major league baseball does: You can enter the draft as a HS senior, but if you don't enter then, you can't enter until your class has been out of high school three years.

10/02/2007 07:51:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...


Your idea is a good one, but lacks practicality. Try as we may, you cannot hope to eliminate courses/majors a school may offer. As I'm sure you are aware, many classes have only 1-3 marks which count towards a final grade. One bad test may be enough to cause a "failed" progress report, based on the courseload and measure of success. What would the "reports" look like? How do you go about standardizing them? What about a player who is enrolled in all classes that only have a midterm and final?

The flip side of this is changing/standardizing course requirements that players enroll in to report a certain amount. But that would likely cause normal students to suffer, either with increased tests and/or an easier time passing the few tests that are offered.

Also, the opposite of coaches being smart when recruiting players are the players being smart enough to say and do the right things and get offered a scholarship. I have a hard time believing players simply respond, "Nope, I'm going to sleep and eat in the gym" when asked if they'll attend classes second semester. While players like 'Melo get the press for not attending classes, I have a feeling we'll see more players sticking with the whole class thing as they try to improve their status- many examples this year come to mind.

Finally, this is a rule that was handed down by the NBA without consultation with the NCAA (well-documented). I don't think the NCAA should change its rules simply because there is a new influx of talent in the college ranks.

For those rare players that make their intentions clear, none of this means ND will or should start recruiting players. ND is a different/special place that can succeed without needing to "cater down", so to speak. The last two years nonwithstanding, the NCAA tourney is more about who plays extremely well, against the right matchups, with a few shots that just barely catch the rim than it is about the best team.

If any one thing has been at least demonstrated, it's that "one-and-dones" make college basketball more exciting. I don't think we can definitvely point to academics suffering because of the "one and dones". At the end of the day, it is the players' responsibility to sit in class, and that is where the responsibility should stay.


10/02/2007 10:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

College players shouldn't get paid in my opinion, yes they went to college to play basketball, but they are still there for the college expereince. To make bad decisions and mistakes to either determine success after the first year or disappointment in others eyes. There freshman year is like there trial period, why would you pay someone for that? To either screw up, or bring their team to the NCAA Championship. Student-Athlete isn't used in Div. 1 schools, and its rediculous, eveyone else has to go to classes, why do players have the right to skip and not get pentalized... Getting paid for skipping class, I don't think so..The main reason to go to school is for the education, but Div 1 players so realize this, and could careless.

10/03/2007 10:36:00 AM  

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