Tuesday, July 7, 2009

One and done...but at what price?

Left to right: O.J. Mayo, former guard for the USC Trojans, and
Tim Floyd, former head coach of the USC Trojans

It has come to my attention recently that, when it comes to college basketball, the players that make the most appearances on ESPN’s Sportscenter highlight reels, or have gotten the most hype before an NBA draft (i.e. Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo, Kevin Love) are the players that have utilized the infamous “One and Done Rule.”

The rule states that men’s college basketball players may attend college and play basketball for one full year and then declare themselves eligible for the NBA. As long as they don’t sign with an agent, these players are given the option to return to college if they are not satisfied with their draft status, or even if they have doubts of getting drafted at all.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking any of these players or their abilities. Some of them are already off to a great start in their young professional careers, and there are other players who either left college after one year (Carmelo Anthony), or went to the NBA right out of high school (Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Garnett), and have enjoyed a tremendous professional career. However, no one can predict how long an athlete’s career will be. All it takes is one ACL tear or one herniated disk, and an athlete’s career is already in jeopardy. Better yet, give a professional scout a chance to find a player who is younger than and just as skilled as the current star player of a professional team, and that star player’s days are already numbered.

Therefore, I present this million-dollar question to potential future NBA players who are contemplating the “One and Done” rule, and also to young, current NBA players on the rise: Do you have a backup plan? If the bright lights of your young professional career suddenly go off and you’re no longer able to play basketball, do you have that degree in education or economics that you can turn to?

If I’ve learned anything in my young life thus far, it’s that education is something that should never be taken for granted, especially since that degree in education or economics can take you far in life, both mentally and financially—the same way that basketball can. For some athletes, a college degree turns out to be the saving grace that keeps them from falling into financial ruin.

I also ask, in light of the recent scandals that have come to light in the world of college basketball, just how much does the success outweigh the risks?

For Tim Floyd, former head coach of the USC Trojans college basketball team, was all the success and fame with star player O.J. Mayo, which included a trip to the NCAA Tournament during the 2007-2008 college basketball season, worth it? Recently, Floyd resigned as head coach after allegations of having paid up to $1,000 to Mayo’s “handler” two years ago before Mayo started attending USC.

Along with that, for University of Memphis and former Tigers’ basketball star (and newly crowned NBA rookie of the year) Derrick Rose, was all of his fame and success truly worth it? If allegations against Rose are true—that he did not take the SATs and instead had someone take them for him—Memphis will be in danger of having their 38 wins and trip to the 2007-2008 Final Four and National Championship game all taken away from them by the NCAA.

Should something be done about the “One and Done” rule? If so, what? Are the players and families who follow this rule making the right decision? Would you ever support the rule if your child was, or is, a potential professional basketball player?

Ricky Howard
Institutional Advancement Intern


Anonymous said...

Definitely a thought provoking article. It is unfortunate though that making money is the prevailing goal. It would be nice if the main goal was to help develop a talented individual to succeed in any walk of life.

J M Tucker said...

I couldn't agree more. It is refreshing to read commentary about upcoming professional atheletes that deals with education and not just fame-seeking money deals. As stated by Howard, there are no guarantees for an athelete's career, and having the training in an alternate program is not only wise, but good financial planning!

skaspary said...

Well written and seriously thought provoking. Every person of influence around every young athlete needs to consider the long term ramifications of that athlete's decision for early drafting. Few who miss the traditional window for a college education ever go back, and for those who would be attending on an athletic scholarship, the odds are even greater. Ask any older person and they will tell you, life doesn't always go as planned. "One and Done" is horribly short sighted. Having a Plan B doesn't reflect a lack of confidence, it indicates tremendous wisdom.

jit said...

Sometimes we are blinded by the immediate gratification opportunities that invite themselves into our lives. Our foresight can get blurred as we think of that "once in a lifetime" moment that may never come again. However, if ever there was ever a Plan B (and C and D!) promoter,'tis I! Then again, I'm not too fond of regrets due to "what if...", but when it comes to NCAA basketball, there is too much of a difference between NCAA ball and the NBA. Few succeed. If you're good enough to follow the "One and Done rule", you'll still be good enough and, barring injuries, better after three more years in NCAA. A college degree buys you the future, no question, and that's the bottom line....and
selfishly, I relish watching my favorite NCAA players taking the court every one of their four years and am disappointed to see them move on. Just yesterday, I was thinking, "...four months until..." What a game! ...but get that degree!

lhoward said...

Dear Mr. Howard,
I appreciate your bringing this topic to light. I have heard about these athletes who could no more manage to swing getting a scholarship to some well known college (based on their academic records) than identify their brains from a hole in the ground, yet somehow they can get into these prestigious schools in order to play sports. Unfortunately it is not limited to basketball. If these students were serious about attending college to start with, I believe their academic records would also indicate that at the high school level and even before that. A great deal of time and money is spent just recruiting these "students" (and I use this term losely) and with that should also come an iron-clad agreement to either fulfill the committment or be obligated to repay the scholarship. Far too often these days, young adults are looking for the immediate payoff; they don't seem to want to work for anything anymore. Just as unfortunate is the fact that these are the values being instilled so much younger now, especially at the elementary school level. Kids no longer want to put in the work, but boy do they want to be praised! Everything has been watered down, overloaded with fluff and now the praise comes before they actually accomplish anything! If it's too hard, then they don't have to do it! If they haven't earned the opportunity, let's just give it to them anyway! And we wonder why they say yes to a college commitment and then back out before seeing it through? Who wouldn't? Getting something for nothing is becoming all too common these days and as long as this is allowed, expect to see more kids coming out of high school agreeing to go to college to play sports, but leaving as soon as they get some exposure. 9 times out of 10 they didn't belong there to start with and not only did they know it, the families and the recruiters knew it too! In this case, the colleges are getting just what they paid for-the sow's ear, not a silk scarf! When academic probation becomes an issue (and I promise you it will), these kids just do what they planned to do all along- take advantage of the system, not the opportunity! Just stop and think how many well-deserving students there are out here who would treasure the opportunity to go to school on a full-scholarship, but are not offered the opportunity to do so because of some stupid (literally) athlete. Most of the funds generated at colleges with academic programs is allocated to bring attention to that department, as is true at the high school level. Should it be allowed-ABSOLUTELY NOT. So when do we say enough? Hard to say, as sports franchises are a major part of the American economy and who can blame someone trying to get their foot in the door. Athletes are paid a thousand times more than public servants, yet the demands of an education-based background are much greater on the public servant? It is my opinion that athletes who make more than teachers should also be required to have earned a doctorate degree! The powers that be who love watching the NBA Finals, the World Series and is there anything bigger than the Super Bowl- don't even want to consider who would be on the field if they had to wait for the Roses or the Mayos of the world to get an education first! Loved your story- keep up the great work!

R. Dillingham said...

Excellent insight! I think Mr. Howard hit the nail on the head when he mentioned how it only takes one torn ACL or herniated disc to ruin a career; not to mention the long term health issues. How many high school athletes that receive partial or full scholarships based on their sports ability end up injuring themselves and then must find another way to pay when they can no longer play. College is meant for academics first and foremost; sometimes our competitive society loses sight of this and the cost of winning comes at the expense of the individual.

tpk said...

Mr. Howard raises excellent thought-provoking questions. Too often the hopes and dreams of fame and fortune overshadow the reality that such a small percentage of the population is able to succeed in this manner. As my parents always said, once achieved, an education is something that cannot be taken away, and as Mr. Howard points out an untimely physical injury can easily keep one from succeeding in the sports world. That said, there are some rare and extremely talented individuals who may benefit from the "One and Done Rule." Hopefully, those individuals have level-headed and supportive people in their lives, who would have their best interest at heart, to help guide and advise them.