Sunday, March 18, 2012

Are "1 and Done's" really "Student-Athletes?"

This season the number 1 overall team going into the NCAA Tournament was the University of Kentucky. Normally, you would not think anything of this, but if you take a closer look at their roster, some pretty alarming statistics jump out at you. Kentucky's starting five consist of 3 freshman, and 2 sophomores, and their 6th man is also a freshman.

Kentucky's Four Freshman "Studs"
From a historical standpoint, a team with so many underclassman would stand no chance of competing in the NCAA tournament. The recipe for success has always been experience, over youth, but this team is different. Most college basketball experts predict that all 3 freshman starterts will forgo the rest of college and enter the NBA Draft. In turn, this means that John Calipari (Kentucky's Head Coach) recruited these "kids" with no intention of them graduating college. Therefore, the term "Student-Athlete" gets thrown out the window when referring to this extremely young and talented Wildcat team. Instead these young men are really just amateur athletes playing for a University team.
Take a step back for a second, and put yourself in the shoes of one of these players. It is a Wednesday morning, and you are sitting in Intro to Psychology (only because you are forced to go to class due to eligibility rules). While the teacher is lecturing on Developmental Psychology, you are sitting in your chair daydreaming about how in about 3 months you are going to be signing a multi million dollar contract with an NBA team.
Now go back to your normal self. Do you really think that 18 and 19 year old students who have no intention of graduating are really going to put forth a lot of effort in doing well in their classes?


  1. This post brought up a lot of good points and raises an interesting question. I don't personally think that using the internal motivations of the players has any pull in the argument, though. If a student is extremely passionate about something, it makes it difficult to place focus in other areas of work or play. I think the passion a top tier student athlete has for the game they play is overwhelming, but their is still a reward to being a well rounded individual. Believe it or not, some student athletes care about their academics and hold their performance in courses to an equal standard as their game.

    I think the real problem lies in the recruiting process and the terms in which the coaches operate. You can't criticize a coach for wanting to track down the most talented, hard working players. As long as those players are able to keep their academic performance up to the necessary standards, I see no fault in this system. A point of improvement would be locking down the academic standards requirements to ensure that kids aren't just slipping through the cracks...

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  3. Players that go to college for one year, and then leave for the NBA Draft, are not student-athletes. The only concerns they have are playing well and increasing their chances to be a higher pick. Players like Austin Rivers have no intention of doing well in the classroom. Rivers has already declared for the NBA and clearly has no intention of pursuing a future education. When these "one-and-done" players pick the college to attend, they are choosing the team and coach that gives them the best chance to be in the national light and improve their draft stock.

    These players don't care about the education and academics of their school. They will do the minimum work they can and hold the the minimum GPA it takes to be on the team. Basketball comes first, not the classroom.

  4. I mean, it is pretty obvious that school is simply not a priority. This was one of the reasons that the NBA took so long on making the mandatory 1 year of college rule into action. What is the point of sending kids to school if they only are doing this because they have to? Well, at the same time there is the reality that even just sitting in a classroom full of different experiences, ideas, and thoughts might just be enough to change a life or at least a perspective. I wouldn't undermine the power that a teacher or classmate can have on someone.

  5. I recently had a discussion with some of my roommates about this and we actually referred to the University of Kentucky as NBA U, or NBA University. The use of "student athletes" by institutions that have no motivation to actually receive an education is appalling and is undermining the very purpose of higher education. These young men might want the glory of winning a national championship, and their coach obviously does, but the regulations regarding this are laughable. When they made the rule that a player had to be one year removed from high school in order to apply for the draft, this pandemic exploded. I'm not sure there is really a good way to fix it, but something should be done to at least hold the players or coaches responsible for their actions.

  6. I agree that they should not even be considered students. I understand that the players have to do whats best for themselves and signing a multi million dollar contract obviously isn't a bad thing. However, the fact that these students hardly have to pass a class to get through the basketball season and enter the draft is a joke. The NCAA should really look into either making a 2 year college requirement or letting players go straight from High School to the pros because they are wasting their time in college.

  7. I agree with this post and the comments above it, something needs to be done about this. Why is it fair that we sit through 4 years of college, grad school and everything in between, and athletes yet again are privileged. Maybe some of us have connections for jobs in the "real" world but our future employers tell us "once you get that degree, you'll have a job here." This just shows and gives athletes a reason to think they're better than everyone else. Personally this is frustrating and annoying because in the future these players will probably make more money in a month than I will in a year, but I will have gone through at least 8 years of college just to get my teaching degree. If we don't hold athletes accountable when they are younger, why do we expect them to act any different when they grow up and become NBA players?

  8. We discussed this issue thoroughly in one of my classes. We settled that they aren't student athletes for a few reasons. Like your image shows, basketball players that go to the University of Kentucky, Kansas, or even Michigan are usually not there for the education. They are their to get the best opportunity to go to the professional league. Now there have been dramatic improvements by the NCAA to get athletes to graduate and be academically eligible. At first the NCAA came out with the 1.6 GPA rule which meant that their high school GPA needed to project to be a 1.6 in college. Then they changed the rule that they needed to have a 2.0 GPA out of high school. After a variety of reforms, they have landed on the Academic Progress Rate and Graduation Success Rate. Both anticipate an athletes potential for academic success and is a projection of if they will graduate in six years. So while the NCAA has made great strides towards improving athletes academics, they can't stop their right to enter the NBA after one collegiate season.

    Another rarely known fact about collegiate athletes is their tendency to "cluster" into majors that are easier. They are forced into certain majors by their institutions so they can monitor their academics and make it easier for them. That doesn't sound like a student-athlete to me. Sounds more like an athlete-student. I know this post was very informative, but I wanted my peers to understand what our universities are doing to avoid the rules. When it comes down it out, universities do what they can to keep their athletes eligible because eligible athletes equals better results.