Making the NBA Age Limit Work

James BoydContributor IJune 20, 2009

NEW YORK - JUNE 26: NBA Commissioner David Stern speaks during the 2008 NBA Draft at the Wamu Theatre at Madison Square Garden June 26, 2008 in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

I’m going to come out and say it. I am young and I support the NBA’s decision to enforce a nineteen year age limit, and think that raising it to either 20 or 21 could be a good idea. Here are some reasons why:

As a young person I don’t buy into the idea that these young men, who supposedly aren’t mature enough to warrant a contract at eighteen suddenly become deserving upon their 19th birthday. 

I don’t think that anyone is ever mature enough for his or her first million dollar contract. Regardless of age, however with a good support system they may stay grounded and eventually learn to deal with this responsibility.

Secondly, at college players get treated like rock stars anyway. While they might not have millions in the bank, they have food and other necessities provided for. A student athlete can live the party lifestyle on the promise of what may come, if they want.

These student athletes also have to live with the pressure of expectation and winning just like any other professional Athlete. especially leading up to the nationally televised revenue inducing March Tourney.  That makes the NCAA millions, and students might get a watch if they win.

Physical Maturity and developing your skills is a major reason why college benefits athletes. It lengthens their expiry date. Preps to Pro’s players take a physical beating, before their body is fully developed. Players like KG, TMAC, and Kobe are vets at 30, when they are supposed to be entering their prime.

Kobe will probably last longer due to his commitment to conditioning.  KG and TMAC are already starting to slow down due to injury.  Will these guy’s get close to scoring fifty points after the age of 40 like Jordan?

The right college program will allow these young men to develop their games. This will make teams willing to spend guaranteed money on a draft pick, as they have seen them against players with equal or greater skill and athleticism. Making a positive contribution during a rookie year more likely.

While these arguments are the reason for the status quo. The real issue is looking after the players. Ensuring the get what they earn. I believe the problem lies in the NCAA.

The NCAA relies on the lure of “Amateur” athletics, despite increasingly professional programs and higher stake games. Yet the NCAA denies these student athletes the right to use their most marketable skill to  earn money.

Not letting a student athlete earn an income from their sporting skills, is like not letting a Chef in training work part time at McDonalds, or an aspiring actor, take roles as an extra during his training. Possibly even a journalism student writing a blog with advertising income.

So how can this be fixed? I believe the NCAA uses the illusion of amateurism in order to keep the integrity of its schools as academic institutions, and to keep competition even by taking money from benefactors as a way to keep competition even.

The solution. To place a greater emphasis on the “student” in student athlete. In short, student athlete’s can earn what they want, have agents etc. Providing they can fulfill more stringent academic requirements.

Top athletes would have to do the equivalent hours of full time study like everyone else on campus. Not do three hours a week in class with the rest study hall in the gym. There would also be a stringent NCAA enforced No Pass, No Play Policy

This would begin with a “combine” of sorts where the top prospects would assemble in gyms around the nation. They would do their SATs as well as official height and other athletic tests.

This would eliminate cheating, as it would be incredibly difficult to get away with under the watchful eye of ESPN and other news sources.

The NCAA would also introduce a talent cap, for scholarship offers. Each school involved would be able to give out 20 basketball scholarships. With each school only able a set number of five star recruits, four star recruits etc.

These contracts would be valid for a full four years, weather the recipients attended college or not, And would always allow the student in question to get their degree.

So if a top recruit left for the NBA after two years, they would still count against the limit for another two years, or until they earned their degree. Revoked scholarships would count against the cap.

This would mean schools would have to choose the players they wanted for the next few years strategically. As One and Done, Two and Through, and Three and Free players would hurt the program’s chance at continued success.

So Instead of being recruited, the top players would apply to the schools of their choice, in order of preference. With each school being allowed to pick and choose from their first preference candidates. Then going to the next school on the list.

This would largely reduce recruiting as it puts the emphasis on who the school wants. Not which players will go there. It should also build greater depth and improve the quality of the yearly tournament.

The NBA would also play its part. The second round of the draft would now operate on a system of guaranteed money, just like the first. Since players have been evaluated for longer teams should be able to find 60 prospects who have earned guaranteed money.

To enable teams to gamble on euro prospects, or other players a third round would be added, that would be non guaranteed

The draft would become slightly more complicated, with players having to schedule workouts around classes if they wished to remain eligible. Provided a player was still attending class as a full time student according to an NCAA approved timetable. They could be under contract for an NBA team.

Ways to become Ineligible include. If you enter a NBA game you can’t play for the rest of that season. Your scholarship ends, eg; you play four years. Or You turn 25.

What about talented players, who couldn't get the grades? like derrick rose, Brandon Jennings, and a host of other players who aren't great students?

Here are a few possibilities.

1. Hire a tutor, and spend some time getting your grades up, because most freshmen won't start anyway.

2. With the talent cap evening things out, go to a lesser school, with easier academic requirements (although the level of academic difficulty might influence the cap level).

3. Go ball in Europe, or the D League, and work your way up.

4. Be the first high school hotshot to go play in China, and laugh all the way to the bank.

Thanks for Reading. please feel free to comment.

if anyone wants to read further on this subject, i recommend this article by Leroy Watson as it served as the inspiration for this one.