College Degrees in the NBA
College degrees are a gift that not everyone can have. Student athletes that get full ride scholarships or just scholarships in general to colleges are lucky people. They have the ability to play the sport they love while also getting a degree. Many people do not have the ability to attend college due to their lack of money, so student athletes who are getting handed college for free have once in a lifetime opportunities.
NBA prospects who are in high school have to participate in the one-and-done rule. That means that they have to go to college for one year and then can enter the NBA draft. Most players that do this will most likely be selected the first round of the draft, otherwise it is a waste to leave school and miss out on playing more competitively and getting their name out in the public. In “One-and-Done: An Academic Tragedy in Three Acts,” Jerome C. Weber talks about how the only benefits of the NBA’s one-and-done rule is that the players get a chance to play basketball at a higher competitive level in the NCAA and the NBA teams can get a closer look at the players they are expecting to draft. The players also get a chance to make their name more well known to fans, so once they do hit the NBA, their merchandise can sell more. The NCAA has minimal requirements for students participating in the one-and-done rule. All the athletes have to do is pass at least two courses during their first college semester to be able to be a student for the second semester. Once the athlete makes it to the second semester, they then do not care about their classes, knowing that they will not be coming back in the fall.
I feel that the one-and-done rule is a waste of everyone’s time. If student athletes are going to go to college, they might as well stay for four years and get a degree out of it. The athletes are wasting money that the university could give to someone else and they are taking up class space that another student might actually need. The athletes are even wasting their own time if they are only trying to pass the bare minimum of two classes the first semester and not even caring about classes the second semester.
Getting a degree can be very beneficial in the long run, but if NBA prospects are so worried about going straight to the draft and making the most amount of money that they can at the moment, then they should attempt to get a degree while in the league. When people have goals for themselves, they seem to forget the obstacles that may come along the way. NBA prospects only focus on making it to the NBA and fulfilling their childhood dreams, but they forget about the idea that career ending injuries are a real thing and could affect their futures. Having a degree to fall back on could be beneficial to someone who is just beginning to start the rest of their lives.
In Chris Dudley’s article, “Money lessons learned from pro athletes’ financial fouls,” Dudley mentions that 60% of retired NBA players go broke their first five years after being done playing. This is due to the financial scams, unqualified advisors and reckless spending. Not every athlete can be as lucky as Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal or Charles Barkley who were able to still work in the NBA field and make money. Others have to balance their money out to make sure it lasts them in case they have a hard time finding a job or figuring out what they want to invest their money in. I feel as if going to college and getting a degree can strongly decrease the percent of retired NBA players who go broke. The NBA players can get degrees in finance for example, so they can learn how to handle their money and make the right investments in case they eventually ever wanted to buy an NBA team or start their own brand.
There are people in the NBA who do not even play, but are still getting paid a great deal of money. These people could have a hard time trying to get a job after the NBA because they do not have a degree and their name is not well known like others. It is not a good idea for players to bank on the fact that they were in the NBA so they assume that they will be able to get a job solely based on their name.This is where getting a degree can be beneficial.
After retiring, Michael Jordan went back to UNC, got his bachelor’s degree and now owns restaurants, a car dealership and owns part of the Charlotte Hornets. Once Shaquille O’Neal retired, he went back to LSU and got his bachelor’s degree and then went to Barry University to get his doctorate degree. He now is a broadcaster for ESPN and owns plenty of restaurants, car washes, fitness centers, a shopping center, a movie theater and multiple nightclubs. Tim Duncan stayed at Wake Forest University for four years, got his bachelor’s degree and was still able to be the #1 pick in the 1997 NBA draft. He is now an assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs. This shows that he was able to go to school and still be the #1 draft pick, proving that his talents did not lesson just because he waited to go to the NBA.
It does not matter how big your name is after the NBA, players will still need something to do to bring in the money and keep their time occupied. Having a college degree can be extremely useful in this situation because players can look at the business world and understand how to deal with their money. Whether players get their college degrees before the NBA draft, during their years of playing, or after retirement, it is a privilege that they should take advantage of and finish.
“One-and-Done.” College and University. One-and-Done: An Academic Tragedy in Three Acts Vol. 85, Iss. 2, Jerome C. Weber. Fall 2009.
“Money Lessons Learned.” CNBC. Money Lessons learned from pro athletes’ financial fouls. Chris Dudley. May 14, 2018.