This past week, I read numerous stories about how the NCAA was at fault for putting the career prospects of the great Duke star, Zion Williamson, at risk when Zion injured his knee in a recent game. Fortunately, his knee was mildly sprained but that did not stop the attacks on the NCAA for supposedly exploiting this young man.
But let’s be perfectly clear—Zion is not forced to go to college because of an NCAA rule. The minimum draft age of 19 years old, agreed to by the NBA and its union, is the reason for the One-and-Done rule.
For many years, the NBA and NFL had a pretty good deal—colleges could serve as their developmental leagues for free.
Blaming the NCAA for the NBA’s collectively bargained labor rules is unfair. The burden to provide alternative avenues for high school athletes who are good enough to play pro but who do not want to go to college should fall on the NBA, the NFL, and other leagues.
Back in 1992, in my book Out of Bounds, which I wrote when I was in Congress, one of my recommendations was to “create pathways (other than colleges) for athletes to enter the pros.”
Now, over a quarter century later, it is high time that this rule be changed and choices other than college be afforded to young athletes who do not want to go to college.
Even Kentucky coach John Calipari who has effectively used One-and-Done players over the years is pushing to allow high school players to go directly to the pros.
Kudos to NBA commissioner Adam Silver who reportedly has submitted a request to the NBA’s Players’ Association to end One-and-Done by dropping the minimum draft age from 19 to 18.
The burden to change this onerous rule is on the pros, not the NCAA.