The NCAA along with several big-name programs and coaches have come under fire in the last week after an FBI investigation revealed recruits and their family members were being paid in some form to pick a particular school. The calls for the NCAA to pay its student-athletes with something more than just a free education continue to spread across social media and the entity of collegiate athletics could be very different in the near future. Members of the Daily Campus Sports staff give their takes on what happens next after a very revealing FBI investigation in this week’s edition of the Roundtable.
Matt Barresi - Staff Writer
I think what happens next is murky, very murky. There are numerous opportunities at play. It’s possible the NBA will eliminate their age restriction; it’s also possible they will expand it to 20-years-old. That change could come as soon as this summer or not for a couple of years. There is a push to allow high schoolers to leap college basketball and play in the G-League immediately, allowing them to get paid and focus on development in a professional setting. But G-League salaries are still paltry, all the marketing and media frameworks support the NCAA and some 18-year-olds may just not be ready for the responsibility of it. It could happen, but it’s so gray it’s best to assume the NCAA model will stay in place until action otherwise. I think the college prior to pros model will continue. The NCAA is finally showing a willingness, begrudgingly, to at least consider changing how they operate. With the FBI continue to air the dirty laundry, some of the changes I anticipate in the next couple of years will be allowing player representation (which exists in college hockey), increased stipends from university athletic departments and finally pathways - probably very nuanced and regulated - but pathways for athletes to monetize their abilities by profiting on their celebrity and likeness. The NCAA system is extremely popular for a reason and if they don’t tread carefully, they could ruin it. But inaction WILL ruin it and change is coming.
Andrew Au - Campus Correspondent
I believe what this latest FBI investigation into the NCAA means for the future of collegiate sports is that the NCAA will have to start compensating their players up front in one way or another. Whether it means getting them a heavy incentive or paying them money upfront, the NCAA will have to make an informed decision moving forward. Many people believe most, if not all, five-star recruits are getting incentives, either big or small, under the table from colleges to come play for their school. We know some of the top-tier college athletes come from impoverished backgrounds, and would not necessarily be able go to college if they were not a top athlete. This is the only way for the NCAA to fix this issue or else these top athletes will keep getting money under the table, or go play overseas or in a development league. Lavar Ball, father of Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, is already on track to make a JBA, or Junior Basketball Association, in which top high school basketball players can choose to forgo college and go to this league and earn money to play in it. Although this league might flunk, many players would choose to go play somewhere where money is involved instead of taking a free education at a college they will more than likely stay for just a year. Former President Barack Obama has also proposed an idea for a “farm league” for top high school players to go play and make a small amount of money before they get to the pros. Players will find loopholes one way or another to get compensation for the high-quality product they put out on the court for these colleges. The ball is in your court NCAA.
Matt Severino - Campus Correspondent
College and professional basketball have a very important next few months ahead of them in terms of changing or implementing new rules. It is often forgotten that the one-and-done rule was implemented by the NBA, not the NCAA. With college athletes demanding more compensation for their work, this would be a great opportunity for the NBA to reconsider their rule that forces top players to head to college for a single season and then declare for the draft. It seems highly unlikely that the NCAA will allow programs to give their athletes anymore than a free education because it goes against the idea of being a student-athlete. Top programs should be severely punished for the information that the FBI recently uncovered. If UConn was banned from postseason play and lost multiple scholarships for having subpar grades and breaking a few irrelevant recruiting rules, the top schools need to receive a severe punishment. A postseason ban for several seasons would deter top talents from attending the school. In a perfect world, athletes would have the choice to either turn pro or go to college after graduating high school. Unfortunately, it seems highly unlikely that any big moves will be made in the near future so the current situation doesn’t seem to be getting any better any time soon.