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NBA Rule-ONE and Done – What About Education?
The NBA One-and-Done rule adopted for the 2006 NBA draft and in place today is the following:
Basketball players who wish to perform in the NBA must:

  1.  Be at least 19 years of age
  2.  OR be one year removed from high school
  3.  If players do not satisfy these stipulations, they will not be allowed to enter their names into the annual NBA Draft

For the sake of education and most importantly, the future of these players, the One-and-Done rule must be changed. Being 19 and/or one year removed from high school does not provide these young players with the skills they need to manage their money, or succeed after their career with the NBA is over. Keep in mind, 10 years as a professional athlete in the NBA is considered a good career. In the best case scenario that leaves the 19 year old player at the end of their sports career, 29 years of age, with no education or skills. There needs to be a stricter policy adopted, quickly.

There are NCAA rules put into place that certain levels of education must be reached to be eligible to play sports in college. So, why can’t there be a rule put into motion that forces an athlete to achieve a certain level of education before the decision is made to play professionally?

The epidemic of professional athletes mismanaging their money is real. Statistics show that 68% of NBA players file for bankruptcy within 2-4 years of retirement. This is happening because they are rocketed into the professional sports world of big money without enough education or real-life, practical experience. ESPN’s 30 for 30 series episode titled, “Broke” outlines this in a number of interviews with retired players. If you haven’t watched it, we suggest you do. It is eye opening.

When I played college basketball in the late 80s, early 90s, the One and Done Rule wasn’t even a thought. Back then, players played all four years, or rarely came out early their junior year. Shaquille O’Neil did the “unthinkable” and declared for the NBA Draft his sophomore year in 1992. And it was a highly controversial move when Kevin Garnett joined the 1995 NBA Draft right out of high school.

Now it is commonplace to play professionally as soon as possible, as young as possible. Much of the motivation for this is the big payday that comes after the first contract. So, if a player can get into the NBA and get his first three years behind him with success, the next contract should be very, very lucrative. That third year would have been their senior year in college. Also, since pro athlete careers are extremely short; the more years you can play professionally, the more money can be gathered. One thing for sure, aging is inevitable if you can stay alive.

I understand this thinking. Back when I was in high school if I knew that I was such a great talent that I could ultimately play one year of college basketball and move onto playing professionally AND make enough money to not have to worry about money again, I doubt I would have worried about my education. Like the next person, I like money.

I know that schools use athletes to make huge amounts of money. But players in turn use big program schools to promote their talents and help position themselves to earn millions of dollars. Some top talent opt to play overseas for the year, or soon to be two years before entering the draft, but only a few have gone this route. The better approach is to go to a big college program.

Why isn’t there a life-skills curriculum program to be made available to them? Maybe the One, or Two-and-Done can include enrollment in a life-skills/financial literacy program to help educate these players about the money they have and are earning. Better yet, why not have these players stay in school until they earn a degree? Living someone else’s life is impossible, but rules COULD be changed that may steer players to better understand the critical importance of getting an education. Curriculums can be made available to the athletes that best suits their needs, like what to do with millions of dollars.
I have some ideas about how this could be accomplished:

  • Each person earning a scholarship to play a sport in college should do so with the intent of GETTING AN EDUCATION.
  • If a student-athlete is on track with their education and signed up to obtain their degree, they can be made eligible to enter the draft after their second year from high school.
  • The players can continue to earn a degree, as slow as it may take them-or pay back the scholarship
  • As long as the player is enrolled and taking classes, even if it is one class at a time, they do not owe for the schooling. But as soon as they are not enrolled, the money is owed back for the entire amount of schooling up to that point.
  • Many schools require students to be on campus for their final 24 or 36 hours of schooling. This is near impossible for the athlete to return to the school because they are playing basketball elsewhere. Nowadays, many schools have the capability of offering online courses. There should be a way for the athlete and the university to work together to figure out the best solution. This may include that the professional athlete attends a certain amount of college games when possible to bring value back to what will hopefully be their Alma Mater.

Obviously I don’t have the answers, but I do know the importance of an education. These ideas might not be the best solution for everyone, because some people are simply not meant to get a degree, or have the noodles to earn a degree, but it would put an importance and larger value on an education and preparation for life after professional sports.
How can we put a larger emphasis on the importance of getting an education?


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