Press box: Doing away with one-and-done

In light of an ongoing FBI probe into the NCAA, calls for widespread reform of college basketball’s recruiting practices and regulations have taken hold of the sports landscape.

One of the many coaches (the investigation targets more than 30 schools) caught up in the national scandal is former VCU skipper Will Wade. Yahoo Sports reported the NCAA was looking into Wade’s recruiting practices dating back to his time on Broad Street, although Vice President and Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin quickly quelled any unrest here at home.

“At VCU we believe in operating at a high level and do not compromise when it comes to integrity in any aspect of our department,” McLaughlin said. “As such, the Department of Athletics has conducted a thorough review of all of our compliance records and all information we have pertaining to our men’s basketball program. We have found no evidence of any wrongdoing.”

Illustration by Ian Duffus

This investigation seeks to uncover a national epidemic stretching from Broad Street to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Tucson, Arizona. Sadly, the prevalence of these allegations across the country has most accused parties brushing them off as insignificant. Arizona’s Sean Miller casually returned to coach his team in the postseason after taking a leave of absence due to reports of paying players.

“Obviously you’re disappointed,” Wade said. “But it’s the way of the world these days. You just move on. The season doesn’t stop. The world doesn’t stop. I try and focus my attention on the things that need it and the things that I get a return on investment for.”

In other words — don’t hate the player, hate the game. You were always adept at hiding easter eggs between the lines weren’t you, Will? Veiled in Wade’s comments is a standoffish insistence of the reality that most high profile college basketball players are paid. But paramount in his insinuations is a challenge to the NCAA, FBI, NBA and all other detractors — do something about it.   

Wade asks us to take a step back and remove onus from coaches who are only participating in a broken system. There is only one viable option, aside from regulating player wages, for curtailing this widespread, nonchalant dismissal of recruiting scandals —  end Adam Silver and the NBA’s broken one-and-done rule.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott called out the NBA in hopes of reinstituting decorum to this shitshow of ‘adults’ exploiting talented young athletes.

“It’s our sense that (getting rid of one-and-done) would be an important step in terms of having more clarity of purpose and mission so that those young men that really solely focused on wanting to get paid to play basketball, they can go do that,” Scott said.

Scott insists ending one-and-done will also benefit less touted players who wish to stay all four years and carry out their college education.   

“And those that are interested in the tremendous benefits that higher education has to offer and being student-athletes and working toward a degree and all the other benefits that you get from that, they come to college sports,” Scott said.

There is no in-between here. These kids are either exponentially talented and risking millions of dollars by playing at the collegiate level, or they are moderately talented and seeking to parlay their athletic prowess into an education and future. Are some kids unsure which side they fall on? Of course. But getting rid of the one and done rule would provide a measure of clarity to this convoluted decision making process.

These are kids. We owe them more transparency than they have been allotted in this process. The NCAA can investigate every school from Broad Street to Tucson if it wants —  they will continue to find the same thing.

“You got to have thick skin if you’re going to do this job; that’s part of it,” Wade said. “You know, it comes with the times. It comes with coaching at the high level. You’re disappointed, but it’s part of it.”


Zach Joachim, Sports Editor

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