Leaders from the Big Ten have announced they are discussing the eligibility rules for freshmen and possibly implementing a “year of readiness.”
The year will allow the 18-year old athletes to adjust to their lives, focus on school, and focus on improving their game. When worded like that it does not seem like a bad idea, but when you factor in the effect that it will have on recruiting, it sounds terrible.
Star players in basketball and football rarely stay until their senior year. Can you blame them? There are millions of dollars waiting for them in professional sports. If there is a conference that is going to prevent five-star athletes from making that leap to the next level, they will just take their talents to another conference. Leaders from the Pac-12 and the Big-12 have also expressed their interests in the idea. They will basically be handing over every major recruit to the SEC and ACC. Purdue AD Morgan Burke had an interesting take on the idea.
“I, for one, as a Big Ten AD, am tired of being used as a minor league for professional sports,” Burke said. “What was right for the NCAA in the first 70 years of its history, maybe we ought to go back and say, ‘What’s changed?'”
Believe it or not, there was a time when freshmen were ineligible to participate. With the way college sports are today, it’s almost impossible to imagine watching college sports, especially basketball, without freshmen. John Calipari might be out of a job.
I am in favor of the NBA changing their age policy, I’ve even wrote about it here, but I am not in favor of this “year of readiness” and I don’t think the rest of nation would be either. The ruling could deplete one of the better conferences in both football and basketball. Besides, even if the rule is taken into action, what is keeping a college basketball player from jumping to the NBA after his first year?
Don’t do it Big Ten. You’ll be digging your own grave.
*Section Photo credit to Jamie Sabau, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Jeff Hanisch, USA Today Sports