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Wednesday, May 14, 2008
College Education: Hold the Mayo

Here is an interesting article from the New York Times about O.J. Mayo, the “freshman” basketball talent at the University of Southern California. The article argues against the absurd age eligibility rule of the NBA enacted with an eye and ear toward what David Stern admits was the mutual back scratching interests of the NBA and the NCAA.

The beauty of the Rule, as revealed in the case of Mayo, is that it makes transparent the hypocrisy of big time college basketball. The requirement of one year of college, “one and done,” compels players, often from poor backgrounds, who are otherwise eligible to earn a living doing what they do best, to enroll in an institution of higher learning for one and a half semesters until their team exits the NCAA tournament. No less an ethicist than Bobby Knight has said, the rule is “the worst thing that’s happened to college basketball since I’ve been coaching.”

Unlike the NFL in the Clarett case, the NBA could not with a straight face argue that the purpose of the rule is to further the education of young athletes and to prepare them for life after a pro career. (Not that anyone believed the NFL in Clarett.) Instead, the purpose of the NBA’s rule is strikingly clear: it gives their scouts a full year of adequate competition to be able to judge the potential of the talent working for free on the farm.


Although this is only my opinion, the rule as never in place for OJ Mayo or other top flight players. Its as if they sacrificed th wrongdoing that was for sure going to happen with the top heavy guys and the majority of the other collegeg basketball players who dont go pro, or do and dont get drafted, but now have an education to go back on.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 5/14/2008 2:23 PM  

When the Clarrett fiasco was going on, I believe Robert Shapiro said on SportsCenter that he wished he could have practiced law at 19, but he was restricted and told he had to get his B.A. and J.D. first. Many professionals are required to go through further training, and that is what these athletes are...professionals.

The reason the NBA put this rule in was due to the fact that so many first round draft picks right out of high school don't even last 2 or 3 years in the NBA. They need time to grow up, away from mommy and daddy, and prepare for this type of life style.

Also, if I am not mistaken, there is no rule that they have to go to college. They can play oversees and I even think in the NBDL. It's unfortunate for college basketball to some degree, but it makes complete sense for the NBA.

Anonymous Steve -- 5/14/2008 7:51 PM  

Steve - the difference in Shapiro's self-example and Mayo et al is that the only thing stopping Mayo from garnering an NBA contract was his age.

Shapiro is right in saying he wanted to practice at age 19, and if a law firm would have hired him he could have done so.

Mayo at age 19 had many ready to hire (draft) him but the arbitrary number known as his age is the only thing that prevented it.
Steve: "The reason the NBA put this rule in was due to the fact that so many first round draft picks right out of high school don't even last 2 or 3 years in the NBA."
- while this may be true, the fact is that Mayo is a likely lottery pick (maybe even top ten pick) and historical data on lottery picks likely show that they last longer in the NBA. (Ex: nine of the top 10 players drafted in 2003 are still in the league)

Anonymous Anonymous -- 5/14/2008 9:47 PM  

Anoy, I don't really understand what you are getting's very clear the NBA's only modivation is to use NCAA ball as a screening tool. It's difficult to compare high school players to college ones for drafting purposes, so this allows them an additional tool.

I'm also getting a little tired of the excuse that these players are "from poor backgrounds" and therefore excusing them from taking bribes and gifts the KNOW are illegal. While I admit colleges are unfairly taking advantage of relativly cheap labor, it's not exactly the hard knock life for Mayo (who isn't from a "poor" background, by the way). He gets a free place to live, free food, free travel, free gear, free training and development, and even allowances for travel (ie cash payments).

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Anonymous handbags -- 5/16/2008 11:29 AM  


There have been approx 40 prep to pro players drafted since Garnett and only 3 or 4 have not played longer than 3 years and if i remember correctly one of them had an injury. On the whole these prep to pros (even non lotto) have preformed well above random.

Anonymous Jim -- 5/18/2008 1:24 AM  

The rule was put in place because a large number of kids from high school didn't make it in the NBA. They didn't' have the maturity needed to be a professional. You can't win either way. If you don't let them in the NBA some college is just going to give them money, cars and houses. Each kid and situation is different but it is a good rule for the NBA's sake.

Anonymous injury lawyer -- 5/27/2008 11:49 AM  

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