My friend and co-author, Richard Southall, was on ESPN’s Outside the Lines today, alongside Ramogi Huma, Jay Bilas and, belatedly, Brad Wolverton. The discussion was about freshman ineligibility for men’s basketball and football players. Ley introduced Richard by noting that he’s called collegiate athletics 21st Century ‘Company Towns,’ a reference to the paper we published last year.
The panel itself was uniformly critical of the proposals. Collectively, the group saw the prospect of mandating a year of preparedness as little more than an effort by the NCAA to burnish its beleaguered “brand;” the disparate racial impact such a decision would have; and the unseemly juxtaposition between institutions making billions of dollars while claiming that education is their first priority.
Bilas made the interesting point that though such a proposal would likely hurt the quality of play – by excluding some of the best young players coming into the college ranks – but that this was no longer of paramount concern to the major conferences, since they’ve already locked up lucrative long-term contracts.