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Jack Guilfoile WR1330-04 Professor Milberger March 24th, 2013 Final Draft College Basketball Devaluing Education

Each year, college basketball sees some of its best freshman stars exit the game early to move on with their professional careers in the NBA. Many do it for the money, others for the instant fame that they might receive in the national spotlight that is professional basketball. However, very few seem to weigh the amount of education and experience that they are losing in making this decision. This process, otherwise known in college basketball as the One-andDone rule, has caused college basketball stars to only experience college careers for a short amount of time, missing out on a lot of benefits that it offers, both academically and for their personal basketball skills. By allowing players to leave school after their freshmen year of college, the NCAA and the NBA are putting little emphasis on the academic aspect of the players lives and only focusing on their athletic careers. Therefore, college basketball should change its draft rules to put a greater emphasis on the education and academic futures of its student athletes to create better, more well-rounded athletes. The One-and-Done rule has caused many players to give little thought or attention to the idea of getting a degree, and rather prompts college basketball players to focus solely on their athletic careers. With this rule in place, many young athletes enter their freshmen season only focused on the next step of getting to the NBA. It has become a particular problem for many of the countrys elite programs. For example, the Kentucky Wildcats led by a starting five of three freshmen and two sophomores, won the National Championship in 2012. Following the game, all five starters entered the draft since they were all projected as first round picks (Kansagra). This

left Kentucky with a huge gap to fill, and despite bringing in the number one recruiting class, the Wildcats missed the tournament this past month, and finished the season being upset in the first round of the NIT bracket. Of those five players that left early, only one has had a strong rookie season. Each year these elite basketball programs have no idea which players will be returning for them the following year. This poses an issue on the part of the coaches, having to go through long hours of recruiting top athletes, only to get one year out of them. In the book Reclaiming the Game: College Sports and Educational Values, author William Bowen discusses the difficult recruiting process that occurs at top Ivy League schools: Each coach will review 200 to 600 tapes a year[c]oaches also maintain contact with prospects by telephone, and often spend long hours cultivating students whom they believe to be both academically admissible and athletically outstanding (Bowen 51). Bowen emphasizes that coaching staffs and high school scouts put in weeks of work to get a lot of players to play for them, only to get their help for a single year. In the end, both sides lost in this game of unpredictability, since players are working to get to the next level as fast as they can, and coaches are working as hard as they can to keep a consistently competitive program each year. For this reason, the rule needs to be changed. This rule is flawed for many reasons. As I have mentioned before, by allowing players the option to leave school early to pursue their basketball careers, the college basketball players tend to have less focus when it comes to their studies and more focus on their athletic skills. Another flaw is that they receive very little college-level experience when it comes to basketball. The step from high school basketball to college basketball is a major jump, and there are few athletes who are gifted enough to compete at such a high level so early in their career. The experience received playing college basketball could benefit players as they continue into the NBA by giving them a chance to mature as a player and really focus on improving all aspects of

their game. It would also help NBA scouts get a better feel for a player if they had several years of college basketball games to watch and see how the player developed over those years. The Journal of Sports Economics breaks down the reasoning behind the increasing trend of early entrants into the NBA from an economic standpoint, as well as the risks faced by NBA teams who have little evidence of how well these young athletes will perform at a professional level. Author Peter Groothuis writes, When players leave early, they have less experience and a noisier signal than a player who stays in college. When owners choose an early entrant, they choose a player who is both riskier and with less experience (Groothuis 228) Though there are some exceptions, too many players end their college careers early to enter into the NBA, and in the end most of them do not pan out with careers of only 3-5 years, leaving them without a job and a college degree. These collegiate athletes also shouldnt overlook the benefits of earning a degree. For the most part, especially the talented players who have a shot of playing professionally, the players are going to college on a full-scholarship. They are getting for free what other students are paying upwards of $40,000 a year for. That itself should show the value and worth that education carries. If these players were able to stay long enough to receive a degree, their own personal value in the business world would go up as well. Emily Hanford from America Radio Works reveals that, in 1970, only twenty-six percent of middle-class workers had any kind of education beyond high school. Today, nearly sixty percent of all the jobs in the U. S. economy require higher education (Hanford 1). With the economy where it is, players looking to get a job once their careers are over (especially if their careers are cut short because they get hurt or they werent good enough) will have a lot of trouble finding a job with a workforce that demands

such a high level of education. This alone should encourage college basketball players to work hard to achieve their degrees. From a basketball stance, college basketball players gain valuable experience that will add to their personal value as a basketball player. The Journal of Sports Economics for example, discusses the role of college to enhance players abilities, Groothuis, Hill, and Perri write, [College] is a training ground where players can hone their skills and become more productive. It is where players move from playing in front of small crowds to playing in front of large crowds and on national television. Second, college basketball serves as a signaling device to provide information and sort players into the NBA (Grothuis 228). These economists take the stance that each year of college experience improves a players ability, as well as giving professional teams a better look at how these young athletes will develop. Therefore, spending more time in college helps these student athletes both academically and with their athletic careers. In my opinion, college basketball should change their approach when it comes to allowing players to enter into the NBA. The rules should be something closer to college baseball rules, which state that players may choose to go to Major League Baseball right out of high school if they get drafted, but if they decide to enter into college first, then they must wait until after their Junior season, or after they turn twenty years old, which ever occurs first (Official Rules1). If this were the case in college basketball, a lot of high school stars would join the NBA out of high school, while many of the great players that are still developing their skills would enjoy a long college career. My only adjustment is that I think that they might as well make it four years so that the players can earn their degrees as well before making the jump into the NBA. College basketball is becoming much more popular across the country and keeping stars in

college basketball will improve the game itself and the players from an academic standpoint. Many college basketball players underrate the value of a college degree, especially from some of the great academic institutions that some Division I athletes attend (Shulman p.212). Education creates a well-rounded player and person, which can also translate to making smarter decisions on the court. An injury early in their professional career could end up being the end of their basketball career overall, and without a degree, it might become very difficult to find work. Earning a degree from the types of universities that many of these top athletes attend would provide more safety and security of a strong financial future for the basketball players and their families. If these athletes knew that they would be staying in school for the next four years of their lives, they would put more focus on their studies so that they can guarantee a degree. For these reasons, I believe that the rules need to be changed. One of the major counterarguments to this claim is that if somebody is that good at basketball, why should they waste their time not getting paid in college when they could be making millions in the NBA? An article by sports analyst Chris Bernucca presents the benefits that the NBA receives by allowing players to leave early: The NBA is better for it, as entering teenagers have dominated the All-Star and seasonal awards over the last decade (Bernucca 2). Interestingly, Bernucca also points out that this occurs not only in basketball but also across all job fields. And what of the real world? Dont millions of teenagers graduate high school every year and enter the workforce as plumbers, builders, administrative personnel, salespeople, delivery drivers, sanitation workers, soldiers and firefighters? (Bernucca 3). This is a valid point, but I think that the solution I proposed covers that issue. I agree that there are players in high school that are ready to play in the NBA right out of high school. Stars who win a lot of these awards and play in the All-Star game who are naturally talented at such a young age and

are ready to make that jump to the NBA after high school should have the ability to do that. Players like LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Garnett all had successful careers coming straight out of high school, and my proposal accounts for players at their talent level. However, players who have a lot of potential but still are not quite ready for the NBA should go to college and take those four years to improve their skills while earning a college degree. Also, nobody knows what the future will hold, nor is it easy to scout talent at a high school level. Many players who seem so promising never pan out, so having players play four years of college first will be beneficial to NBA scouts as well. In the end, college basketball would be better since stars would be around for four years and programs wouldnt have to worry about losing their freshmen each year. At the same time, the NBA would also improve because it would contain a lot more developed players. The current rules regarding college basketball players entering the NBA are flawed and take away the value that education should play in their lives. A player who plans to go straight to the NBA after one year will have little focus on his school work since he wont be around long enough to get a degree anyway. Without a degree, many players find it difficult to find a job after their careers have come to an end, or if their career was cut short due to injury. In order to achieve financial security for themselves and their families, college basketball players should consider staying to receive an education and be competitive in the job market. It also causes problems for the colleges themselves. Each year, college programs heavily recruit the top athletes around the country, yet most of the time they only get one year out of them before they move to the NBA. Even professional teams must make some bold and very risky decisions when choosing players who have only showed their abilities for one year at the college level. The best way to solve this issue is to change the rules in a way that players can either go out of high

school or after four years at the college level. This would be the best way for the student athletes to improve themselves academically and athletically. It would shift the focus of the student athletes towards a more academic life, where they can receive a high level of education. The end result would be better basketball at the college and professional level, as well as well-rounded basketball players with even better skills.