It was announced yesterday that moving forward the NCAA will now allow “elite” college prospects to sign with agents and give them the ability to return to college if they are not selected in the NBA Draft. At first glance, the new rules is a victory for student-athletes, but is it really?
As multiple media personalities have pointed out, this moves seems more like a PR stunt than a step in the right direction. The NCAA is all about amateurism, and it wants to protect that at all costs.
Let's outline some of the key points of this new rule:
- This rule does not apply to all college basketball players. It only applies to those deemed “elite.” The job of deciding who is elite and who isn’t falls on the back of USA Basketball. The interesting part here is that it appears that USA Basketball didn’t agree to, nor does it want this responsibility. According to an article by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, “USA Basketball doesn't have the infrastructure or interest in accepting the role of evaluating the nation's top prospects… USA Basketball prefers that the NBA make those decisions”
- The problem here is that it also appears the neither the NBA or the NBPA has agreed to this new rule. The NCAA more or less went over the heads of the NBA, burdening them and USA Basketball with tasks they had not formally agreed to. While discussions have been had, there was never a general consensus moving forward with regards to a rule change.
- Of the few this rule will impact, even fewer will actually take advantage of it. Many players who go undrafted will try to land with teams overseas, teams in the G-League, or land a roster spot in the NBA Summer League. Few, if any, will actually return to college. As Wojnarowski pointed out on Twitter, if you are undrafted now odds are you will undrafted a year from now as well. Why prolong becoming a professional?
In short, the rule seems nice on the outside but in the end it falls short of having any real substance to it. If the outcome with the rule is the same as the outcome without it (go undrafted, play overseas for example) what does the rule really change? Perhaps it changes the public perception of the NCAA. A pat on the back of sorts; a “look what we did for our athletes” moment. Until the NBA/NBPA and USA Basketball are on board, and until you allow this rule to help all athletes, not just the elite ones, you haven’t done anything.