The NBA players’ union accepted the minimum-age rule in 2005, requiring a player to be at least 19 years old and one year out of high school before entering the NBA draft. (It went into effect in 2006.) The rule has worked to the advantage of the NBA, but it has become a source of contention for many college coaches and fans.
Talented players become one-year mercenaries, just waiting for the day they can join the NBA.
“I don’t think it’s the best way to go about things right now, to force kids who have no interest in being in college, to come to college for a year,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “You’re seeing the consequences of that right now, in many ways.”
Kids who have been treated as a commodity since junior high are suddenly going to turn into a student amateur athlete for one year? Ask USC how that worked out with O.J. Mayo.
The rule makes a mockery of the NCAA's focus on academics.
“In my opinion, it makes a mockery of education in college and also I think it’s condescending on the NBA’s part. To be honest with you, I’m not sure how much the NBA cares about college basketball. They’re in the business of making the NBA the best product they can make it. I think the NBA is happy with the way their rule is. They get to market these kids for a year (before they turn pro).” - Former Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel
The NCAA touts the student-athlete in everything they do and say. What about a school's Academic Progress Rate (APR)? Players turning pro early do not attend classes after the NCAA tournament. Schools are penalized, sometimes by a loss of scholarships, by the NCAA when student-athletes fail to meet certain academic guidelines.
Programs wax and wane with greater speed than ever before.
“I think that Ohio State would look back at the time that Greg Oden and Michael Conley were there and say they made a pretty good run at the Final Four,” Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. “If you had a chance to do it again, would you do it again? You bet you would.”
One year a program may have huge talent, an NCAA tournament berth and possibly a championship. A month later, it's all gone. That program is forced to rebuild from scratch all over again. And then the cycle begins again the next year.
It has a big impact on recruiting.
“What I do is recruit the best players I can and if they’re prepared after a year to go, I influence them to go,” John Calipari told the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times. “Then you just keep reloading.”
Programs have to recruit talented prospects to keep up with the competition. Those same talented players may leave after one season. Coaches are then in an even more vicious yearly cycle to recruit talent.
Outside The Lines from 2009
Is the one-and-done rule good for college basketball in general? Should the rule even be in place? With the current onslaught of NCAA scandals, does this bring even more to the college game?