Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"One and Done" is not a Problem

"One and done" refers to  elite college basketball players who attend college for one year and then leave for a professional payday. Some see the practice as improper or distasteful.  For instance, the New York Times recently editorialized:
A disquieting postscript to March Madness is the expectation that the starting five of the University of Kentucky’s national champion team — a mix of sophomores and freshmen — will soon jump into the professional basketball draft’s potential riches years shy of a diploma. Fans are right to ask whatever happened to verities like amateurism, education and team loyalty in college sports.
By the end of the editorial, the Times answered this question, in case there is any uncertainty:
Fans should recognize the commercial underpinnings of March Madness for what it is: a big business for universities that has little-to-nothing to do with education, except perhaps in the cynicism of the real world.
Writing at the blog of Barlow Garsek & Simon, attorney Christian Dennie explains that not much can be done in any case to prevent the practice of one-and-done:
[T]he NCAA cannot alter the landscape and, thus, cannot prohibit a student-athlete from leaving school after a successful freshman year. Such a practice would violate antitrust laws for which the NCAA would likely have no defense. The NBA and the NBPA, on the other hand, have authority to enter into collective bargaining agreements that restrict player movement and conditions for employment. In this case, it is a condition of employment that a student-athlete is nineteen years old and one year removed from high school prior to becoming a professional basketball player. In accordance with the nonstatutory labor exemption, an agreement between the employee and the employer to restrict entrance into the NBA is permissible (i.e., Clarett v. NFL). Additionally, the NCAA is not permitted to enter into the bargaining relationship between the NBA and NBPA. As was evident during the NCAA tournament, the NBA and the NCAA do not see eye-to-eye on this issue in light of David Stern and Mark Emmert’s verbal sparring about the one and done rule. In sum, unless the NBA and NBPA change the one and done rule through collective bargaining, it does not appear changes will be made anytime soon.
As a college professor, I see absolutely nothing wrong with the practice of one and done. Students leave college for many reasons, sometimes unwillingly (e.g.,, finances) but often by choice -- Look at Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. If universities want elite college athletes to stick around, they will have to do as Dennie suggests, and provide some incentives that make it worth their while. Otherwise, for most elite athletes, leaving to secure a lucrative payday just makes good sense.

1 comment:

  1. I'll agree with you, for a different reason. 'One and done' means that universities only have to maintain for one semester the shoddy pretense that these guys are actually college students. If they stayed for their full eligibility, we'd have to twist ourselves into pretzels for 3 1/2 years.

    What I don't understand, really (and I admit I'm not a fan of college basketball -- if you were at U Nebraska, you wouldn't be either) is the genesis of fan loyalty, when the guys turning out for your 'school' arrived on campus six months previously and won't even complete spring classes, don't mix much with the general student population, and have only the most tenuous connection to the university. When you root for UK basketball, what exactly are you rooting for? Even the hired guns in the pros have more of a connection than this.