On Wednesday, the NCAA managed to anger the NBA, bungle its own message to the public, and prove that the only ability it thrives in showcasing is its own ineptness.
Job well done, NCAA.
When the new and approved rules were posted by the governing body of college sports a variety of reactions followed. Some agreed there were obvious flaws, but the hope remained that this was the NCAA’s earnest step in helping players receive a few more rights and even gain a little power.
How silly. How very, very silly.
Instead, the NCAA had to clarify every rule change made, as whoever was tasked in relaying the message either did the job of a child or the people involved were oblivious to how misleading the original portrayal of the rules were. Either way, not exactly ideal.
To summarize the day’s events, it was said — by the organization itself, at first — elite college and high school players would be allowed agents. That players who enter the NBA Draft early, but were not selected, would be able to return to college.
Sounds good, right? Even with the flaws sitting right on the surface, pushing to the wayside how it would impact scholarship spots, a positive step?
Then, because history has taught us that the governing body’s impotence knows no bounds, journalists began to find out that the NCAA purposely mislead people or were just too idiotic to realize it had.
When the NCAA said it would allow for elite players to have agents? It only meant after the NBA did away with its age-restriction. Moreover, neither the NBA or United States Basketball was advised that they would be tasked with who would be considered elite, angering and alienating organizations Marky Mark Emmert and the NCAA Funkybunch should be directly working with.
Not to mention, the above are examples of rules (cough) made by the NCAA it has no control over. Not only would it be reliant upon the NBA to make new rules first, the people tasked with helping college basketball essentially passed the buck to a professional league that owes it nothing without even asking first.
Let’s actually just punch this issue and topic right in its misaligned jaw:
The NCAA — as well as the Commission on College Basketball and other poorly constructed “helpers” — reacted to the FBI’s probe of the sport last season by not addressing a single thing for it happening in the first place. Nor did any of the people involved take a hint at accountability.
Rather, the NCAA painted community leaders, people overseeing AAU basketball, as the evil-doers. The bad guys. The people with supposed agendas. On Wednesday, it then decided to invite more of the thing it swears it loathes, those pesky agendas, into the fold.
Even if it isn’t with intent, the USAB comes with an agenda. When/if ever they agree to do what the NCAA assumes it would (determine who is an elite player), there’s no way an American organization can fairly evaluate all prospects equally, as there’s no realistic way to expect a domestic organization to know of a borderline ‘elite’ player from another country.
Sure, there will be the obvious elite players from Canada like R.J. Barrett, but what about the fringe prospects?
As for the NCAA’s approval that players can have agents? Yeah, uh, that’s only after the NBA makes rule changes as well — and the agent is only allowed to help with travel expenses directly correlated to a prospect testing the professional waters.
Let us first acknowledge the obvious: The NCAA is being mighty presumptuous that an agent would be willing to work for free-ish. Furthermore, that this idea that the agent will operate without an agenda and 100 percent operate within the rules is downright laughable.
Rules, especially within a system fostering corruption through a workforce going unpaid, will forever be broken. Shoe companies can be used as the best example, as they not only defied the NCAA’s arbitrary rules, but decided against following actual legalities.
When there’s a lot of money on the line, with there being more money earned than labor paid, someone who is looking to make more of it is going to look for that edge. In collegiate money sports, that’s someone or something using the untapped potential of paying an athlete for his services to do it on behalf of whatever (programs, shoe companies, etc).
Wednesday was a public act of defiance with a sprinkle of hoping the general public swallowed this nonsense-stew up. That — because insincere words were championed as solutions and a scapegoat was named — a nation would move on from this idea that college basketball is inherently broken.
It is broken, mind you. Not because people fail to abide by the rules, but since the rules fail to follow any modern business model, all while the people pocketing the money earned off the back of labor shield itself from embracing any form a capitalism only when it comes to that specific issue.
The NCAA hopes you’re too dumb to recognize this. Its university members are hoping you cherish the fictional and romanticized ideal that, through magic I suppose, people are better off not being paid their value because… well… ugh… the term “student-athlete” was literally invented to not pay death insurance to a widowed wife of a college football player.
If we’re being honest, there’s a lot wrong with college basketball as it currently operates. Wednesday didn’t fix it. In fact, it probably made it worse.
Maybe none of us deserve this version of college hoops. Not because of the reasons the NCAA claims. Just because of the NCAA.
Joseph Nardone has been covering college basketball for nearly a decade for various outlets in a variety of ways. You can follow him on Twitter @JosephNardone.
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