ARLINGTON, Texas — NCAA officials and Kentucky coach John Calipari at least agree on something: The one-and-done rule in college basketball needs to be revised.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said during his annual news conference Sunday that he is in “vocal opposition” to the rule established by the NBA and its union that requires players be at least one year removed from high school before declaring for the NBA draft.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby went further, saying “the NFL and NBA have been irresponsible in not providing other legitimate opportunities for kids that really don’t want to go to college.”
Calipari has said he favors a two-year period before players can declare for the NBA draft, even though his 2012 title team had three one-and-done players, and the team that he’ll put on the floor in Monday night’s national title game against UConn could have even more.
“As everyone knows here, this is enshrined in the labor agreement between the NBA and the NBA players, and not a rule that we have control over,” said Emmert, who has spoken out against it in the past. “I think everybody here knows my position on it.”
The age restrictions were put in place in 2005, two years after LeBron James joined players such as Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant on the none-and-done path to the NBA. While those players succeeded, many other high schoolers declared for the draft and struggled.
The rules have been tweaked and scrutinized since then, and there is still no consensus on what system is best. Some prefer the baseball model, which gives high school players the right to enter the draft immediately, but those that stay must wait three years. Others agree with Calipari that two years is appropriate, and still others believe that all age limits are ridiculous.
“I like the baseball rule,” Bowlsby said. “I like, ‘Draft ‘em out of high school or leave ‘em go until after their junior year.’ And I also think the NBA and NFL need to have some legitimate developmental program to allow people who don’t want to go to college to go develop their skills.”
The one thing that everyone seems to agree upon, including Calipari and NCAA officials, is that the current model serves neither the players nor the college game.
“Every president I know, and every conference I know, is pretty adamantly opposed to that, and hopes that the NBA and the NBA Players’ Association will make some changes,” said Michael Drake, the chancellor at California-Irvine and the incoming president of Ohio State.
Calipari has grown weary of the attention his program gets for churning out one-and-done player. He has had 13 of them dating to his days at Memphis in 2006. He argues that he is simply playing with the hand that he’s dealt, and that the players who do leave for the NBA after only one season are simply pursuing their dreams.
In fact, Calipari was so disgusted by the negative connotation associated with the term “one and done” that he offered an alternative this week: “succeed and proceed.”
“Every player that I’ve recruited, and they will tell you, I say the same thing: ‘Don’t plan on coming to school for one year. You make a huge mistake,’” Calipari said. “But if after one year, you have options, that will be up to you and your family.
“Enjoy the college experience, enjoy the college environment, because the rest of it is work. It’s not about family, it’s about business. So enjoy it.”