Change is coming to college basketball, and John Calipari has a few suggestions for Mark Emmert.
The President of the NCAA gave a “state of college athletics” address on Thursday. Emmert’s speech went right after college basketball. In the wake of the federal corruption case, Emmert wants to see significant change in the sport right away.
“We’ve all made a commitment to have meaningful change, not trivial change, in place by tipoff 2018,” said Emmert. “People don’t want words; they want to see action,” he continued. “We’ve got to fix it together. Nobody thinks it’s going to be easy. In fact, I think it’s going to be really hard. But we’ve got to get on with it. We’ve got to put our actions where our words are.”
Jay Bilas could not resist the chance to call Emmert a hypocrite in a conversation with John Calipari on College Gameday. Coach Cal did not want to pick on the NCAA President, although he had to make sure the audience knows the one and done rule is not the root of the evil.
“Who exactly are you saying doesn’t belong in college? Karl Towns and Brandon Knight — I could go on and on — we had straight-A students that belonged in college, and were one and done players,” said Calipari.
“There’s a documentary about one player and that has become what college basketball is, and that is not true. So, what I’m saying is we’re dealing with 10 or 12 players.”
That one player, Ben Simmons, did not take advantage of his academic opportunity. Calipari pointed out that most of Kentucky’s players have successfully completed their academic requirements. If they did not leave with a degree, they have a scholarship for life.
“We have the highest graduation rate of basketball players in the history of the NCAA. We have the highest graduation rate of African-American basketball players in the history of the NCAA. So there’s something going right.”
If the NCAA and NBA agree to end the one and done rule, Calipari’s first fix would begin with the NBA. Like the NFL’s process for underclassmen, he wants NBA officials to directly tell prospects if they’re good enough for the league. That would happen at a giant camp/combine for 150 of the nation’s best juniors.
After kids learn they aren’t NBA ready, he does not want to see players go to straight to the G League. Calipari believes the NBA’s minor league serves a purpose, but it’s not to develop young talent.
“I don’t believe in the G League stuff,” Cal said. “I think the G League has an unbelievable purpose, which is give guys that second and third chance to make it because many of these young kids don’t know how to work. They don’t know how to be professional. They don’t know what it really takes to be a man. So they do dumb things and they gotta go down to the G League and they come back and they make it.
“I think the G League, that’s the purpose, not getting 150 high school players and telling them, ‘Don’t worry about your academics. Don’t worry about your academic success. Just go and play basketball, and if you don’t make it, don’t worry. You can figure it out later.'”
Coach Cal also offered some suggestions to fix Emmert’s corruption problem. It all starts and ends with money. Calipari believes players should be able to make money from their likeness.
“I think the players, if they’re selling your shirt with your name on the back, you should get some of that money. If your signature, if people want your autograph, it’s your autograph. It ain’t my autograph! It isn’t the University of Kentucky’s autograph. It’s yours. If you can sell that, sell it. There’s some of that stuff that we can move to.”
If there isn’t a market for players to immediately make money from their likeness, there’s another way players and their families can access financial stability before becoming professionals.
“The kids should be able to get a loan for their families. Why would you say they couldn’t get a loan? The (NBA) Players Association could do it. If you want to stay in school, get a loan from the Players Association and stay in school because that’s what you want to do. There are things to eliminate all the third parties.”
There’s one problem with John Calipari’s bold ideas: he forgot he’s talking about “student-athletes.” The day the NCAA budges and abolishes the outdated terminology will be a cold day in hell.