Don’t let kids go one-and-done.
Going to need some help from the NBA on this one, but if a kid doesn’t want to go to college, let the NBA deal with it. In reality, there’s only a handful of athletes that will make the jump from high school to the league in any given year anyway.
Once you go to college, stay three years
Taking this from the college baseball model, once kids decide to go to college and not direct to the professional ranks out of high school, make them stay in college. Give them a longer set time to develop as players and as human beings. This will have many programs playing a better brand of basketball because there will be less of an emphasis for coaches on recruiting high profile players that will inevitably leave early and more of an emphasis on coaching basketball.
Strengthen the NBADL
Let the NBA babysit the kids for the kids that don’t want to go to school. I know Mark Cuban has made some interesting suggestionsabout what the NBA could do to fix the D-League. Maybe people should listen.
Develop academic programs that give student-athletes a chance.
Come up with programs at the schools that kids can actually finish. A lot of kids (not all) that play basketball at the Division-I level shouldn’t be expected to get through the rigors of a standard academic schedule.
Think about it: they’ve spent their entire life training to be a basketball player. Instead of requiring them to take courses that they have absolutely no interest in or even a chance at completing, why not develop curriculum that will allow them to be a coach? Does a kid really have time to complete a standard curriculum when they have the majority of their day committed to being an athlete?
Let’s be real, most college athletes out there (not just in basketball) probably aren’t geniuses that are going to go pre-med, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of passing a college course. Don’t dummy it down, but customize it. Come up with something interesting that matches up to their needs instead of pretending that the 24/7 grind for a student athlete doesn’t exist.
How about a personal finance class for the kids that have a shot to do it professionally? Those kids already make enough money for their respective schools, a specialized class just for them won't hurt.
Give them a stipend already.
About this 24/7 grind: if you’re going to ask a student athlete to work, and I mean work, for a team enough so that they don’t have time to commit to other activities or more importantly, get a part-time job, then they need to be paid.
There is enough money in Division-I to give kids some form of monetary compensation to help kids with standard out-of-pocket expenses. The, “but they’re getting a free education” argument is a real old and tired one, so just stop. I’d much rather the NCAA get smart and compensate kids enough so that they even have money for food and clothes because just giving them the education doesn’t come close to being enough when you consider the return a school gets for an athlete’s around-the-clock commitment.
What changes would YOU make?