The college basketball season just ended. You knew that from your bracket. Heck, even Ned Flanders would think a bracket is too much fun to be immoral. But the season just ended two days ago. And guess when the deadline is for college underclassmen to decide whether to turn pro? Next freakin’ Tuesday, according to Syracuse.com, who laid this all out for Syracuse fans wondering what CJ Fair is going to do.
This is the timeline:
- April 8, 2013: Championship Game
- April 10, 2013: The deadline to apply for an assessment from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee
- April 15, 2013: The deadline to receive assessment from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee
- April 16, 2013: NCAA Early Entry Withdrawal Deadline
That’s right. The underclassmen in the Final Four have exactly one week to decide that they are not going to make themselves eligible for the draft. The most important decision of their respective lives, and the NCAA gives kids as little as one week to decide. Even worse, a kid like CJ Fair can receive his “assessment” on April 15 and get a whole 24 hours to decide. 24 hours.
An NCAA apologist might say that a kid could still decide to go pro between April 16 and April 28. However, anyone choosing to go pro during that period would give up their NCAA eligibility. There is no chance to return to college at that point.
It gets better. The purpose of moving up the dates to crunch this timeline was…. get ready for this… to benefit the student-athlete. That’s right, the NCAA is actually telling the world, with a straight face presumably, that they tightened the deadlines to help kids. The Syracuse.com article stated as follows: “The NCAA moved this date up in 2012 ‘to help keep student-athletes focused on academics in the spring term and to give coaches a better idea of their roster for the coming year before the recruiting period is closed,’ according to the organization.” Right. The latter part of the sentence is true, but not the former. This has nothing to do with helping kids.
If the NCAA cared about the players, it would allow them to go all the way through the draft, see where they are drafted, and then decide whether to come back to college. Indeed, as long as the player did not sign a contract, why should they be deemed to have lost their amateur status? Larry Bird was drafted by the Boston Celtics in 1978. He played for Indiana State in the 1978-1979 season. He then went pro for the 1979-1980 season, and the rest is history. Despite the Boston Celtics holding his rights, amateur athletics did not come to a halt. Things worked out quite well, actually.
Surely, you say, it would be improper for any current college athlete to be drafted and stay in college, right? Well, not if you are a baseball player. The MLB draft is set up to allow the drafting of three categories of players:
- High school players, if they have graduated from high school and have not yet attended college or junior college;
- College players, from four-year colleges who have either completed their junior or senior years or are at least 21 years old; and
- Junior college players, regardless of how many years of school they have completed
A high school player that is drafted, but chooses not to sign gets to go play college baseball. The NCAA will let him play. For a while, as the college baseball player will not be eligible again for the MLB draft until he turns 21 or completes his junior season. So, somehow, the NCAA allows drafted, but unsigned, baseball players to compete. It works the same way in hockey.
So, why is their one set of rules for baseball and hockey, but a much more onerous set of rules for basketball and football? If you are an optimist, you think it is because the NCAA makes so much money with football and basketball, that they care a lot more about keeping the amateur ranks clean. But, if you think about it, that cannot be. If it was only about ratings and attendance, keeping the best basketball and football players around would be even more profitable. If you are a pessimist, you might suspect racism. Right? The more “white” the sport, the more likely the NCAA is to allow you to be drafted and return to college nonetheless. At the very least, with a largely African-American sport such as basketball, the NCAA is more than willing to force kids to make a decision, one that will either be smart or terrible, in one week. Every time a basketball player leaves early, is not drafted, and is never heard from again… it is a warning sign to others that might consider leaving early. The NCAA will gladly ruin someone’s life to protect their cash cow. Especially when they are ruining a young African-American male’s life. Yes, this is a pessimistic view, all right.
Hey… if you can find a rationale for having different rules for the different sports, feel free to share it. The Confidential would love to hear why it must be different.
Whatever the reason, it is just one more example of just how absurd the NCAA is. But you knew that already…