By Shawn Muller-
(CBS) There was a time–not too long ago–that my favorite sporting event to watch every year was the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
But after watching John Calipari and his “rent-a-team” Kentucky Wildcats cut down the nets after beating the Kansas Jayhawks for the championship in New Orleans on Monday night, I can honestly say that “March Madness” has lost most of its luster in my book.
Now, I don’t want to turn this into a pouting rant about the Wildcats and their fearless leader Mr. Calipari, and whether or not I feel something “shady” is going on down in Lexington. If that were the case, I would go on about John Calipari having to forfeit two other Final Four appearances at two different schools (UMass and Memphis) prior to his taking the Wildcats job.
I would then mention that Kentucky was about as “down” as the all-time winningest program could be prior to Calipari’s arrival at Rupp Arena and–magically—he has managed to get the top high school talent from across the country to come play collegiate ball in the “Blue Grass State” again.
Yes, I could go on and on about my feelings as they pertain to John Calipari and whether or not I believe he is running a “squeaky clean” program, but like I said, I am not going to do that.
Why? Well, first of all, it has not been proven that he is doing anything illegal at Kentucky. Secondly, I don’t blame him for running a “one-and-done” factory.
Calipari is winning and winning big down in Lexington, and, as it stands right now, if a “rent-a-player” system is what he has to do to win (within the rules, of course), then why wouldn’t he do it?
College basketball fans— myself included–can complain about guys like Calipari, and accuse him of wrong-doing until we are Kentucky blue in the face, but he isn’t the cause of the “rent-a-player” problem and the accusations that come with it.
The NBA is.
The worst thing David Stern could have done to the college game was banning high school players from entering the NBA draft straight out of high school.
I don’t like seeing prep players jump straight to the pro’s after high school, but I can’t really argue against it. After all, if they have graduated, then they should be free to pursue a job, correct?
Do I think the majority of high school players should play college ball for a couple of years? Yes I do because I think the majority of high schooler’s aren’t ready for the professional ranks. But there are some players on the opposite end of the spectrum—guys like Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James—that would have been wasting their time playing a year in college.
Obviously the Bryant, Garnett, and James examples are the exception rather than the rule, but the difference between them and NBA-ready prep players now is that those three had a choice as to whether or not they wanted to go to college as opposed to high school players today.
Last I checked, college is not mandatory, so why should it be any different for basketball players?
I would like to see the NBA follow a similar line as Major League Baseball. In baseball, high school prospects can go straight to the draft after graduation, but, if they do decide that they would rather play college baseball first, then they have to stay in school for three years.
I’m not saying that the NBA should institute the three year rule like professional baseball, but I do think basketball players should have to stay at least two years because one year is ridiculous. How many freshmen that know they will be entering the NBA draft after the college season is over are even attending (or have to attend) classes during the spring semester?
These players aren’t “student-athletes”.
They are mercenaries and the “one-and-done” rule is making a mockery of college sports.
Shawn Muller has lived in the great city of Chicago for 7 years. He is a 2002 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and, in October of 2010, Shawn received his certificate in radio broadcasting. In his free time, Shawn enjoys spending time with his wife Melissa and 3 year old daughter Ava, catching any live sporting event, and traveling. Check out his radio show, Grab Some Bench with Muller and Bangser” every Thursday night at 8:30 P.M., at www.blogtalkradio.com/spmuller24. Read more of his blogs here.