Calipari seconded the point during the recent NCAA tournament: “Enjoy the college experience, enjoy the college environment, because the rest of it is work.”
Jabari Parker, the star freshman at Duke, will likely be the No. 1 selection in this summer’s NBA draft. He’s a proven talent. The question is whether he’s ready to become president and chairman of the board of Jabari Parker Inc. Sure, he can score inside and out. But can he run his own business, day in and day out?
A review of how most pro athletes handle their money suggests not. Wouldn’t it make more sense for gifted student athletes to be offered classes and experiences to help them manage the assets they’ll acquire? There’s nothing worse than seeing a former pro whose playing days are over and whose wealth is gone.
Of course, some argue that players’ right to seek gainful employment, even if they’re still in high school, is being infringed. That’s also true. History has shown there are some young players who’ve only had a driver’s license for a year or two, and who are good enough to play with the men.
Maybe there should be a baseball-type exemption that allows them to be drafted, even if they need a year or two in a developmental league. That’s what the NBA would like to see — an expanded minor league where the number of teams would increase, as would the minimal salaries the players currently receive.
Nothing will happen, however, until the NBA Players Association names a new president. That’s when the negotiating and trading will begin.
No changes are imminent, and they may not be until the existing contract expires in 2017.
Even when something happens, college basketball won’t return to the day when most star players spent four years in school, pursuing a degree as well as a professional contract. Maybe in years to come they’ll get to develop their skills and become savvy enough to handle their good fortune.
We could call them one-and-then-some players.
Tom Lindley is a CNHI sports columnist. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.