The One-and-Done Rule Degrading College Education
In Nate Burleyson’s article, “The History of NBA Draft Eligibility and the Elimination of the One-and-Done Rule,” Burleyson talks about how in the 1960s, to be eligible to enter the NBA, a player had to be four years out of high school, meaning they needed to graduate college. In the 1970s, Spencer Haywood decided to go to the ABA, which was the NBA’s rival, after only playing two years of college basketball. One year after playing in the ABA, Haywood decided to play in the NBA, being only three years out of high school. The NBA was hesitant to let Haywood play so this was taken to court and found to be violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. This led to high school graduates and young college players eligible for the NBA before they graduated college. From about 1995-2005 a huge amount of players went straight to the league after graduating high school.
The one-and-done rule then became apparent for the NBA in 2005 with players having to be at least 19 years old and one year out of high school before entering the NBA. The reason for this rule was to give high school seniors a chance to mature before entering the pros. Once this rule was implemented, all of the NBA prospects did their first year of college and then went straight to the NBA; not many stayed longer than the minimum year. I understand the idea of wanting the players to mature and get a sense of playing at a higher level of competitive basketball before entering the NBA, but at the same time, there is no benefit of getting a college education for a year, just to go to the NBA and not get a degree out of the education part. I see benefits only coming from either staying in college for four years to get a degree and then go to the NBA to make a bunch of money or just going straight to the NBA from high school to make a bunch of money and try to get a college degree during or after their careers. Either way, players are going to make a crazy amount of money from playing, it’s just a matter of do they want to get a college degree or not.
If you look at it this way, a player can go play college basketball and risk getting a career ending injury before entering the NBA or they can go straight to the NBA, make a bunch of money and risk getting a career ending injury. In “The One-and-Done Dilemma” written by Rachel Stark-Mason, she interviewed Jonathan Bender, the 5th overall pick in the 1999 draft. Bender states “When you’re projected to be a top-10, possibly top-five (pick), you don’t want to sacrifice (it by) going to college at that point, or going anywhere else, because you could get injured or anything else could happen. So you want to take that opportunity when it’s presented.” Players are better off being able to make their own decisions whether they want to go straight to the league or take a year to adjust to playing in a different level of basketball. The one-and-done rule seems to only benefit the players that need a year to mature physically and emotionally and who need their names to get bigger so they can have a chance at a better draft pick.
In the article, “Why the NBA’s 1-and-done Rule Is Causing More Harm Than Good,” Grant Hughes makes a good point that players have to go through watching their families struggle financially while they are playing college basketball. When the players are in high school, they have the chance to get a job to bring in another source of income for their family. If the players are forced to go to college, they most likely do not have time to have a job and since they are not home, they are unable to provide money for their family. Going straight to the NBA from high school is giving the players the opportunity to make millions of dollars that can help keep their families in stable living conditions. In another article, “Here’s how much the first pick of the 2018 NBA Draft will make as a rookie,” Tom Huddleston Jr. commented that the first round pick in the 2018 draft was projected to make as much as $8 million dollars. The second pick can make about $6 million, the third pick can make about $5.4 million and even the last pick in the first round can make around $1.3 million. Those salaries are just for playing basketball, not even considering how much more money a player can make with all of their endorsements. If high school seniors know that they are able to make this amount of money as soon as they leave high school, they’re not going to want to waste their time at college for a year where they are risking injury and doing the bare minimum for classes just to make them NBA eligible. A lot of things can happen in a year and if a player’s family is financially struggling, waiting a year to make it to the NBA might be too late.
The one-and-done rule can give people the impression that it is encouraging players to only look out for their best interest rather than the college teams’. Players are going to college for the one year to do their time so they can move on with their lives. This can affect the team’s overall work ethic. Players could only be looking out for their stats rather than working as a team to bring home a championship for their school. Having players stay on the team for only a year or two can make it hard for teams to actually have a flow because they are constantly getting newcomers who have never played together before. When athletes play for teams, they are expected to be 100% committed to that team. Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, makes a good statement in Allen Barra’s article, “Both the NBA and NCAA Want to Keep Athletes in College for Too Long,” saying “if you’re coming to us to be a collegiate athlete, we want you to be a collegiate athlete.” Also, not every college basketball player has the opportunity or wants to make it to the NBA, so it does not benefit them in any way when they are trying to play during their junior or senior year and have new freshmen and sophomores coming and going, not caring about the teams’ overall wellbeing.
If student athletes decide to take advantage of the college scholarships they are awarded, there is a big benefit. By taking advantage of the scholarship, that means they stay for four years to get their degree. They would be able to come out of college debt free, not having to spend a single dime of their own. Then if they went to the NBA, they could spend their salary on beneficial items for their families. If players decided to get their degree during or after their NBA career, they would still be able to easily afford college and barely make a dent in their bank accounts. Being able to get a college degree is a very remarkable achievement, so the opportunity should not go to waste. The one-and-done rule just seems to degrade the whole idea of getting a college education by showing the NBA prospects that all they have to do is the complete bare minimum to be eligible to play for their college team and eventually make it to the NBA. Even Adam Silver, Commissioner of the NBA, says that the NCAA suggested that players who are doing the one-and-done rule should just go straight to the league, being there is no benefit from the rule.
“NBA One-and-Done History.” Medium. The History of NBA Draft Eligibility and the Elimination of the One-and-Done Rule. Nate Burleyson. July 2018.
“One and Done Dilemma.” NCAA. The One-and-Done Dilemma. Rachel Stark-Mason. Fall 2018.
“The Harm of One-And-Done.” Bleacher Report. Why the NBA’s 1-and-Done Rule Is Causing More Harm Than Good. Grant Hughes. August 2013.
“NBA Rookie’s Earnings.” CNBC. Here’s how much the first pick in the 2018 NBA Draft will make as a rookie. Tom Huddleston Jr. June 2018.
“The NBA Having Players in College.” The Atlantic. Both the NBA and the NCAA Want to Keep Athletes in College for Too Long. Allen Barra. April 2012.