The Confidential

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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, 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 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 there 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…



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11 thoughts on “N-C-A-Absurdity

  1. I would love to see the college basketball draft resemble that of baseballs but that won’t happen unless the NBA wants it, it is their draft. I’m not sure how much control the NCAA has but your points about the absurd dates are spot on. Louisville has a couple players going through this process right now.

    • It’s the NCAA that can say–“do whatever you need to do… until you sign a contract to accept $$$ or actually get $$$, you are still an amateur and eligible.”

      • Vinnie Saltine on said:

        And even then it’s a gray area…Correct me if I’m wrong but wasn’t Jake Locker drafted for baseball, signed & accepted a contract, and then came back for his senior year of football?

        I recall during the SU/Washington game a few years back the announcers saying how noble it was that Locker gave up his scholarship (since he had money coming in from his baseball contract).

        Perhaps the solution is that cities with multiple sports (like NY or Philly) could draft a player in baseball early and then assign their rights to a basketball team in the same town later on. This could be especially lucrative if a team owner controlled both the baseball & basketball teams…

  2. Allen on said:

    Is there anything that prevents players from applying for NCAA assessment prior to April 10th, or are they required to make the submission between April 8th and 10th?

    • That I do not know. I would assume that a player can do so after his season ends. So a Georgetown player can always count on being able to submit his request for an assessment before the third round of the NCAA (ha ha ha). But for the kids in the Final Four, this does leave a tight timeline. And given that a run to the Final Four often involves additional exposure, it is possible that a guy can shoot up the charts. Look at Carmelo Anthony.

      I suppose the NCAA may allow kids to submit the request before the season is over. But I could also see where no reasonable kid would ever do that. Imagine if some kid submits a request for assessment on March 1 and then lays an egg in the Big Dance. The perception will be that he was focused on the NBA and not on the present. And so on.

  3. Vinnie Saltine on said:

    The biggest difference between baseball/hockey and basketball/football are the respective farm systems.

    Even when Baseball and Hockey teams draft all-star college players, they most likely require a few years in the farm system until they are ready to play.

    The NBA in particular uses the NCAA as its defacto farm system, so if a player decides to go pro and doesn’t make it into the Association, then he’s SOL.

    • So? That just means that the NCAA competes with those systems. Notwithstanding same, the fact of being drafted does not disturb eligibility. And, as you note, guys like Locker and Drew Henson can sign lucrative baseball contracts and remain eligible in football. So why can a player be drafted in the sport, but remain eligible because he refuses to take the money?

      • Vinnie Saltine on said:

        I agree, a player should be able to be at least get representation, enter the draft, and return to college if they choose. Hey, if Minnesota can draft Ricky Rubio but not bring him over to the NBA until his contract expired in Europe then it should be the same thing… a player gets drafted, has the option to stay in college or go pro, and then when we decides to go to the NBA he has to go to that team (or that team can trade his rights to another team).

        I think you’re right that the NBA is less concerned about developing the athletes and more concerned about controlling them. A true D-League/farm system would create more options for the athletes, particularly those that gamble on the draft and lose, which doesn’t seem to be in the best interest of the NBA.

        • I really don’t care about the NBA. The issue is why the NCAA weighs in at all. If the NBA wants to draft only certain players, that’s the NBA’s problem. NCAA eligibility and draft eligibility are not mutually exclusive.

          The only reason I can see for the NCAA taking a tough stance on eligibility is that the NBA agrees to NOT develop a minor league so long as the NCAA is a willing partner to NBA rules. And maybe that is it.

          Of course, as noted in prior articles, I think the NBA is crazy for not having a meaningful D-League that operates as a post-college minor league, rather than a competitor to the NCAA. But that’s just me.

  4. I don’t think the NCAA has the right to keep anyone from going pro, the one-and-done rule was an NBA idea I believe. IMO, the basketball draft rules won’t change unless Stern wants them to.

    • Why is everyone missing the point? The NBA rules are irrelevant. Irrelevant.

      The issue is the rules that the NCAA imposes regarding eligibility. The NCAA–not the NBA–determines eligibility to play in college. The NCAA imposes deadlines that requires kids to decide by April 16, 2013. The NBA’s dates are much later. They don’t care.

      The point of the Larry Bird issue is that when the NBA did allow juniors to be drafted, this did not mean that the juniors lost their NCAA eligibility. The NCAA did not allow the act of being drafted to destroy eligibility. Now, the mere act of making oneself available for the draft DOES destroy eligibility.

      Do you see why this has nothing to do with Stern or the NBA? The NCAA does not currently keep anyone from going pro at all.

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