Kentucky head coach John Calipari is in the National Championship Game for the second time in three years, and each time he has used a starting five filled with freshmen.

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It has worked and there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s been good for Kentucky and its' head coach, but it’s not the recipe for long term success for the Wildcats or the NCAA.

The NBA has a requirement that players need to be removed one year from high school before they can enter the draft.  NCAA president Mark Emmert has reiterated his opposition to such a rule, and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has echoed such a sentiment and added neither the “NBA or NFL provide other legitimate opportunities for kids who really don’t want to go to college.”

Does Bowlsby understand the training ground for the NFL is college and the same for the NBA?  Oh, and the NBA does have a developmental league for those one and done’s (and others) who don’t make it. That’s the risk players take. Why do we gloss over the education (pay attention UNC) that is supposed to come with the scholarship or the contacts that many athletes make while playing a sport.

Both the NFL and NBA, as well as other major leagues, do have a responsibility to their fans to put the best product on the field/court and everyone can admit the NBA product has suffered from kids thinking they are ready, when they really are not. Too many are being drafted on potential, and yes, that is just as much the fault of these short-sighted GM’s as the agents convincing these kids to leave school early.

Everyone is seeking an alternative to the current system. Bowlsby thinks the baseball system should be considered, where a high school player, if drafted, signs with the team that owns his draft rights or he must stay in college for three years. I would recommend handling it the way college hockey does. A player is drafted by an NHL team and the team owns those draft rights for as long as the player is in college. When he is ready to make the jump to the next level, he heads to the league. If the player isn’t ready for the show, then he plays in the American Hockey League, which could be the equivalent of the NBDL.

Does anyone really care what Mark Emmert says anyway? How believable is he? Emmert was involved in a massive scandal while at the University of Connecticut during a construction project that lost $100 million due to mismanagement. He said in 2011 that the NCAA needs to be transparent and yet his tenure has been surrounded by controversy and missteps: see the University of Miami scandal. He also pledged when he took the job that he “loathed paying student athletes,” and yet this year in January he said a stipend for athletes is less controversial. What to believe? I believe this: Emmert and the NCAA are too selfish and self-absorbed to figure out a solution that best suits the college basketball/football player and the sport. 

This debate will rage on until everyone involved wakes up. It’s not as easy as saying, “just pay them” because there are too many questions on how much and who is deserving of what.  It’s not as simple as saying the American way is to pay those who bring in the money (football and basketball) because you are then steering kids (and parents) toward just those two sports when we need a balance in our sports society. 

Maybe I’m making it sound too simplistic, but I believe you should protect the student-athlete with health coverage in the future and allow them to get paid for their likeness in video games, jersey sales and allow them to hold signings for money. 

If the demand is there, then they should be allowed to capitalize. That’s as American as anything else.