Any argument about what should be done should first go back to the reason for athletics in colleges in the first place-- it was supposed to conform to the original Greek/Roman ideal of sound mind/sound body-- so any logic that uses the premise that it's OK for colleges to take in people who have no interest in training their minds for future careers (but only want to be professional athletes), should be tossed out immediately. If you don't want to learn anything of an academic nature while in college, then you don't belong in a traditional college-- go find a trade school somewhere, that focuses on training athletes for professional athletic careers (like circus clown school, or rodeo cowboy school, chef school, or some other physical profession-focused trade schools)-- Europe has plenty of these "gymnasiums" that are focused on training professional athletes... the US should never have let the academic environment be corrupted by people whose only interest was in pursuing big-time, professional athletics-- Europeans don't let those people pretend to be students at their universities, and neither should we.
Having said this, it's clear that the NBA doesn't care about colleges or the NCAA (and nor should they-- that's not the NBA's concern)-- David Stern has made this abundantly clear. The NBA (in cahoots with its NBA Players Association), not the NCAA, is responsible for the age 19/one year beyond HS graduating class date eligibility requirement that has created the current "one-and-done" situation. The NCAA could do a number of things to make it harder for the NBA to do what it is currently doing:
1) The NCAA should never tell a kid (even if he DOES hire an agent) that he can't come back to school, after staying in the draft, and even being drafted-- as long as he doesn't take any money from anyone, what difference does it make if a kid goes through the draft, and then comes back-- the NCAA is being stupid about this, and it is hurting their athletic product. A kid can be drafted out of HS by MLB, and it doesn't have the slightest effect on his college eligibility, if he doesn't sign-- why should it be any different for the NBA. If the NCAA really cares about agent contact (though I don't know why they care, as long as no money changes hands), then tell the kid that he must not communicate with the agent, once he comes back to school, and the whole thing should be fine.
2) The NCAA should penalize schools that have kids leave early-- severely-- within the scope of the Academic Progress Report program (that is about to sanction UConn). This will disincentivize schools from taking kids who are likely to leave early-- let them go to trade schools, or the NBA D-League-- make the NBA pay for developing their own players, just as MLB does. And if this leads to the creation of some kind of minor league teams linked to AAU teams, and the best kids not playing in college (just as they do not in gymnastics, tennis, etc.), so be it-- that's not what college is for.
3) Let colleges (maybe even push colleges to) sign scholarship contracts with kids out of HS that say, if you leave early before your 4 years are up, you cannot work in the professional athletic field related to the sport you came to college in, for a certain period-- just like professional people in things like broadcasting and investment banking have certain mandated periods in their contracts that prevent them from jumping from one competitor to another and working right away. This should be legal, if it's legal for other professions. The colleges should be able to sue, if a kid tries to break his contract, regarding competing employment as a professional athlete. The contract should even stipulate damages that would be high enough to consume whatever contract money the NBA pays to 1st Round lottery draft picks. (By the way, quid pro quo should apply-- athletic scholarships should be 4-years guaranteed-- none of this renewal year-by-year, that colleges get away with now.)
The bottom line is that Bilas, smart as he is, is full of BS on this issue-- nobody holds a gun to any kid's head, and makes him sign a college scholarship offer-- if you want to sign the contract, then you agree to the terms of the contract of that organization (the college) and its governing body (the NCAA)-- if you don't like it, then don't sign up. The colleges, if they really believe that bringing kids in to college to play intercollegiate sports is good for these kids (because the kids get an education as a by-product of the process), need to start walking the talk on academic education, and ensuring that some academic educating actually gets done-- the colleges need to take responsibility for their own outcomes in this environment, and start imposing their will on this situation, in the places that the colleges can actually influence-- and stop pretending like they are helpless victims in this situation... the sooner that colleges get kids who are professional athletes ONLY out of their institutions, the better it will be for all who remain at the colleges.
I'm of a similar mindset as Mudge, although I'm not totally sold on point #3. Colleges are in fact serving as a minor league for the NBA and so many of these kids just don't belong there. Only a small percentage of the general American population goes to college (maybe 20%? 30%?) yet we expect 100% of basketball players to go there. How is it fair to expect that 100% of the people who want to play basketball for a living are eligible, able, and willing to attend an institute of higher learning? And I know some people will say that the purpose of college is to prepare someone for a job, and colleges are preparing these guys for the NBA, but if that's the case then why even make them go to class at all? Why not have "professional basketball player" be a major where all you do is practice? If I'm going to become a doctor or lawyer, I go to school to gain the knowledge and skills required to do these things. Yet we're taking people who want to become basketball players and putting them in programs that have no relevance to them just so that they can stay eligible to play. (Note that I'm talking about typical one-and-done type players here, not ALL b-ball players).
So IMO the solution to this problem from the NCAA's perspective is to institute stricter admissions and eligibility requirements. Have a rule that an incoming player has to meet academic standards that are within a certain percentile of the school's general student population. Require them to take a full courseload and to maintain more than just a passing GPA. If a player can't meet these requirements, then he doesn't belong in school in the first place and certainly doesn't deserve to be given a scholarship. This would bring some integrity to college sports and make it so that "student athlete" is no longer an oxymoron.
The NCAA is the governing body for a multi-billion dollar enterprise. There are two labor inputs, coaches and athletes. The NCAA sets the terms under which athletes are eligible to compete. In an economics sense, it is a monopolist of the highest order (OK, monopsonist (single buyer)). Athletes receive something of value in terms of an enriched academic, social and athletic experience. Even athletes that learned very little in the classroom cherish their college experience.
When Bilas rages against the terms of the contract that athletes sign, he is right in doing so because the athletes have no alternative choices under the NCAA monopoly. Unfair exercise of monopoly power is prevented in other industries, and Jay is arguing that certain provisions of the "contract" are unfair and should be changed.
With respect to the NCAA tightening the rules even further, such as the introduction of "non-compete agreements" that prevent scholarship recipients from working in the competing professional leagues for four years -- well -- there are a host of problems. First the "collegiate model" is a house of cards that may come tumbling down any time soon. This would add yet another story or layer to a shaky structure. Second, it is blatantly unfair to prevent a young man (or woman) who can earn millions as an athlete from doing so. The explosions from doing so would likely destroy the house of cards, with Congress leading the way.
With respect to the reasons for athletics in college in the first place: you have expressed an ideal, but that is not where athletics stand in the US in the public eye. Americans love big-time college athletics. College sports are a multi-billion dollar enterprise, as I said, and it is certain to remain one. It would arguably be better to have a different model, and you are free to argue for it, but I don't see anything in the winds that suggest that college sports will radically change, except maybe to become more professional, in the direction that Jay Bilas argues.
I know this is a thread about one-and-dones so I don't want to stray too far off topic, but now that we've sort of diverged to what benefits student-athletes should be able to get, I think that if you're going to restrict what they can do to earn more money during school (explicitly through amateurism rules, or implicitly through time commitment), then schools should be allowed to offer something closer to the true cost of attendance. Yes, they get free food, athletic apparel, room, board, etc., which is better than nothing, but it doesn't cover a lot of things that many non-athletes would consider necessary expenses. This might be what the schools were looking to do by allowing stipends to be included in part of the scholarship. I'm not saying that the NCAA should let schools pay the athletes anything close to what they bring in for their respective schools, but they should at least get something to buy some clothes that don't have the team sponsor's logo or to have a few nights out with their friends, or god forbid a meal paid for with something other than food points.
one come out where Frank Martin admits to paying his former high school players to cover their expenses in college and no one thinks twice. It might night be a problem for a lot of players, but for the ones who are coming from tough situations, a couple thousand dollars of expenses beyond what is covered by scholarship can be a huge burden.
Not to further derail this thread, but Duke is insanely generous with the perks it provides its student-athletes. Basketball players have enough food points that they could basically order pizza from Papa John's for 20 people and get it delivered every day if they wanted (although other sports aren't as generous as basketball/football in the food category; I recall non-scholarship fencers get like $12 max for dinner, for example). Obviously, there's only so much food you can eat...They also stayed in a $2000/night hotel on a trip that cost something like $30,000/player this summer (privately funded, I believe). I'm not saying they don't deserve it, though, and perhaps other schools aren't as generous as Duke. But I certainly don't feel bad for Duke athletes when it comes to compensation. Duke basketball players have no necessary expenses whatsoever. Obviously, reasonable minds can differ on this contentious topic, though.
I have always said that the NBA should cap Rookie and second year players and make them earn their big salaries in their third years. It would help the NBA teams save money and save face and might make some kids stay in school a little longer knowing they aren't getting that big payday any time soon. Plus this way a bust stays a bust.
In economic terms the athletes are given scholarships in return for their services to the university athletic program. The scholarships are clearly a form of compensation for these services, even if the athletes in other circumstances would be willing to play for nothing.
In legal terms, scholarships are not taxable income or earnings, and the relationship between the athlete and the university is not considered an employment relationship. Thus, the universities are spared many things, including the full application of federal and state labor laws, like OSHA.
Nevertheless, we have a market where hundreds of universities are competing for thousands of athletes in different sports under economic and other terms dictated by the NCAA. Thus, the universities compete on non-compensation matters -- quality of academics (value of scholarship), coaching, likelihood of winning championships, facilities, publicity (TV appearances) affecting future earnings, degree of preparation for pro careers, social life on campus, etc., etc.
And I agree that college athletes don't have much negotiating power. And that's no moral outrage. I didn't when I applied to grad school (or Duke for undergrad, for that matter), turnandburn55 didn't in his first job, and any number of other people didn't when they were starting out their careers or education.