Hell No, Don't Let Them Go!

Josh Wright —  8 May 2008

My colleague and fellow UCLA alumnus Thomas Hazlett and I have published an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune proposing a partial solution, partially inspired by the early exit of Kevin Love from our beloved Bruin basketball squad, to the problem of early exit by potential NBA draftees.  We note that the problem is the NCAA cartel, which restricts payments to college players while attempting to maintain the charade of amateurism.  While this restriction on cash payments is not likely to be lifted any time soon, we proposed that universities extend insurance coverage that will allow interested potential draftees to stay in school and insure the risk of draft slippage.   Here’s an excerpt:

So the answer, given that universities cannot pay athletes market wages, is to at least insure them. Were underclassmen to be appraised, via draft rankings, and then offered compensation in the event—post-graduation—they slipped by some increment, they could hedge this very considerable exposure. The NCAA allows players to insure, but the player pays even though it is largely the university (and its fans) that benefits. Moreover, policies can only insure against career-ending injuries, leaving the more common outcomes—less serious injuries and performance-related changes in draft status—terrifying prospects.

The schools should extend broader coverage. The contracts we propose do not fully compensate college athletes for their valuable service, and would thus retain only some of the talent now jumping early to the pros. Yet, the approach would preserve the NCAA’s “amateur” wink, while allowing student-athletes to play college ball until their 21st birthday without risking the family jewels. A slam dunk, really.

Check out the whole thing.

3 responses to Hell No, Don't Let Them Go!

  1. 

    Thanks Thom & Ashok. And yes, I really do think college ball is a better product than the pros! But then again, I also prefer that some effort be expended on the defensive end of the floor prior to the playoffs. Anyway, this point is not really instrumental to the issue in the op-ed. But still, if you think slow pace and contrived offense is a problem — yes, my sense is that the NBA regular season product is far worse than the college product.

  2. 

    You probably already know this, but the NCAA was sued for setting caps on financial aid for athletes, and had to settle this year. I think it was established though that they had monopoly power and that this was de facto price fixing.

    The insurance idea makes sense. You do hear the risk of injury invoked more than the lost wages. It probably would induce more to stay.

    Do you really think college ball is more exciting than the pros? The 35 second shot clock kills it for me. The pace is too slow, the ball movement too sloppy, the offense too contrived. But I guess it must be different if you have a horse in the race.

  3. 

    Nice op-ed, Josh.