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NCAA president would like to be done with one-and-done rule

By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star

NCAA president Mark Emmert came down hard on college basketball careers that last one season.

“I happen to dislike the one-and-done rule enormously and wish it didn’t exist,” Emmert said Friday during a panel discussion hours before the Midwest Regional semifinal round tipped off. “I think it forces young men to go to college that have little or no interest in going to college.

“It makes a travesty of the whole notion of student as an athlete.”

But Emmert is quick to remind that the one-and-done isn’t a college rule. The NBA requires players to be 19 years old or have completed one year of college before becoming eligible for the NBA Draft.

The rule went on the books in 2007, as players such as Texas’ Kevin Durant and Ohio State’s Greg Oden spent a year on campus. That was the first class not allowed to follow such players as LeBron James into the NBA straight from high school.

Memphis guard Derrick Rose was in the next class of one-and-dones.

Critics on the college level have howled. Coaches must continue to recruit the game’s top talent but one-year careers play havoc with future recruiting and roster plans.

School officials say the rule has made a mockery of the term “student-athlete.” To be eligible, an athlete essentially has to be eligible for the fall semester. Academic performance can slip in the spring semester but an athlete can complete a basketball season without consequence.

“It simply creates the wrong type of environment for us,” Emmert said.

Kansas has had two one-and-done players in the last three years — Xavier Henry, who played in 2009-10, and Josh Selby in the next season. Kansas State’s Michael Beasley was a one-and-done as the Big 12 player of the year in 2008.

Duke’s Kyrie Irving left after his freshman year in 2011.

This year, Kentucky could have two players — Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist — leave after this season. The website draftexpress.com projects college freshmen to be four of the first players drafted in July, starting with Davis.

Don’t blame the player, Emmert said.

“I’m not critical of the kid who does that,” Emmert said. “Why would we object to a young man pursuing their life’s pleasure? If a young woman wants to dance with the New York City ballet at 16 we don’t see her on our college campuses. That’s fine. If someone is a great musician they may or may not come to us. We don’t think less of them.

“But if you’re coming to us to be a collegiate athlete we want you to be a collegiate athlete. We will give you the best opportunities in the classroom, in the training room, with coaches. If you want to become a professional athlete, there is no better place to go generally than to come to one of our schools to develop your skills and abilities. But if you do that, you have to be a student.”

There has been sentiment to change the rule, and NBA commissioner David Stern has expressed interest in a two-year minimum between high school and the NBA. The league’s union said it might be willing to change if colleges allow stipends above scholarship costs, an idea that has gained traction among major conferences as television contract revenue increase.

More Emmert

Over the past year, the NCAA has handed down punishment for violations committed by some of the college sports biggest brands: Ohio State, Miami, Fla., Southern California, perhaps sending a message that no program is above the rules manual.

Emmert was encouraged by what he saw on Thursday when NFL commissioner Roger Goodell penalized the New Orleans Saints for the team’s bounty payments, punishment that included a one-year suspension without pay for head coach Sean Payton.

“I thought it was a very direct powerful message from the commissioner as to what was and was not tolerable in their culture,” Emmert said. “While their goals and culture are different than ours, they held the adults in the room accountable in a very powerful way. I think that’s a useful lesson for us.”

To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to bkerkhoff@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.

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