On Thursday, the NBA shocked the sports world when they announced an alternative to the unjust “one-and-done” rule. The “one-and-done” rule mandates that NBA draft entrants be at least 19 years old or be one year removed from high school. The rule arbitrarily requires NBA hopefuls to attend college before attempting their dream of playing in the NBA. That unwarranted requirement is now over, at least for some. The NBA will now allow select elite athletes who may not wish to attend college to enter the NBA G-League (the NBA’s minor league) and receive a “select-contract” worth $125,000. To qualify, athletes must be at least 18 years old and ineligible for the NBA draft.
Until Thursday, NBA hopefuls could have no affiliation with the NBA until they satisfied the “one-and-done” rule. This unfortunately left collegiate athletics as the only viable avenue to the NBA. As a result, many elite basketball stars played in college for one year and then left for the NBA draft. This phenomenon has been a major point of contention in the “pay-for-play” debate and became a focal point of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball last September. The FBI’s investigation exposed that many college basketball players are paid and given incentives for their athleticism, as they should be. In reaction to the FBI’s investigation, the NCAA created the Commission on College Basketball (Commission) to “fix” college basketball or probably more correctly to maintain their unjustified control.
The Purpose of the Commission on College Basketball
The Commission was led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with the purpose of “improving integrity” in college basketball. In April, the Commission issued a report and made several recommendations to “improve” college basketball. The Commission arguably failed to adequately address many of issues in college basketball. However, the Commission did make some worthwhile recommendations.
One of those recommendations was to abolish the “one-and-done” rule. The commission also urged the NBA and NCAA to create alternatives for athletes who do not wish to attend college. The NBA answered that request with the implementation of this new program in the G-League. Basketball players now have an option to play professionally that does not require college attendance. While the NBA deserves credit for providing this new option, it does not remedy all of the problems in college athletics.
While the G-League Program is Great, it is Not the “Great Fix” for College Athletics
As great as this new program is, it is not the cure to all of the issues in college athletics. Basketball players have an option outside of college athletics, but the injustices that plague college athletics is still prevalent. Athletes who really want to attend college will continue to suffer. Universities, coaches, and other sport administrative officials are still set to make unseemly amounts of money while the athletes are unjustly limited to a cost-of-attendance scholarship. The cost-of-attendance cap unfairly prohibits college athletes from receiving the full value their athletic prowess could afford them.
Furthermore, this new program does not absolve the NCAA of its need to address the absurdity of its rules. College-bound basketball players are still subject to the arbitrary “amateurism” rules that preclude “impermissible benefits.” Therefore, a college-bound player may not receive assistance that could be misconstrued as an “impermissible benefit” no matter how dire their need. Also, a player still cannot monetize his or her likeness with a YouTube channel showcasing their athleticism without jeopardizing their eligibility. Accordingly, college athletes must choose between education and financial gain.
The NBA Still Retained Control
In addition to the control the NCAA has, the NBA unfoundedly asserted more control with the new program. The NBA retained control by making the program open only to “elite” basketball players. Therefore, the NBA or an entity chosen by the NBA will determine who is “elite” enough to play in the G-League. This arbitrarily gives the NBA final say in who gets to exercise the option to play professionally. The opportunity to play in the G-League should be open to any aspiring basketball player. There should be a traditional tryout where the best players make the team.
Likewise, the NBA retained control by not allowing athletes to once again go straight to the NBA. Aspiring professional basketball players should have that option. Again, the NBA deserves credit for creating a viable option for aspiring professional players. However, much work remains to truly make the system fair.