Enes Kanter Situation Offers a Solution To NCAA's Amateur Conundrum
With the NCAA's decision to make Kentucky big man Enes Kanter ineligible, the governing body of college athletics is showing once again it knows how to wield and crack a whip.
Based on the current rules, the decision is the correct one, but is it fair? Is it time for the NCAA to re-look at the way amateurism is viewed and judged?
The very simple answer to that is yes.
The time has come, not to pay kids for playing college basketball, but to allow them to play basketball for pay.
As far as anyone can tell, Kanter was paid money to play basketball for a team in Turkey. He wasn't paid money to play for Kentucky. He wouldn't have been receiving money during the academic year or basketball season.
So why shouldn't a player good enough to play for a pro or semi-pro team not get paid during the offseason when school isn't in session.
A few years ago Duke basketball player Trajan Langdon played minor league baseball and was paid for it. As a result, he was essentially a walk-on on the Duke basketball team.
The NCAA approved this and other players have done similar things playing two sports. Why can't this be the case for the sport you play in college?
Couldn't a player agree to play in the NBA's D-Leauge or summer league to get experience, make some money and still be allowed to come back to college and play.
Should the NCAA allow players to receive payment for playing in summer leagues and tournaments without affecting that player's eligibility?
Perhaps, they could do like Langdon and give up any scholarships. They could also make the decision on whether they give up their scholarship based on how much money they make.
For example, a player could be allowed to play in a tournament and get paid a small compensation for it without losing their eligibility or scholarship. Obviously, if they played in a league overseas or in the United States the NCAA could rule them ineligible to receive a scholarship, but still eligible to play.
This essentially allows the athletes good enough to play for pay, to get a summer internship. As long as they aren't taking money during the school year and are still maintaining good academic standing, then what is the real problem?
There are those who would say it spits in the face of true amateurism, but does it really? What is amateurism these days?
Allowing players to get paid in the summer for playing might even keep kids in college longer. Depending on how their summer workouts, leagues or tournaments go, they can evaluate if they are good enough to go pro or if they should stay in college and work on their game.
And for those who may not be good enough to cut it at the next level, it gives them a chance to continue to pursue a college degree with the scholarship still intact.
This approach seems like a win-win. It cuts down on the temptation to take money under the table by being up front with it. The NCAA could set a pay limit to determine how much is too much before a player has to give up their scholarship.
The NCAA can still keep college coaches out of it and continue to crack down on agents, boosters or former players giving improper benefits.
If the players are getting paid, they would be less likely to take from a booster or former player. It would teach them to budget their money and spend it wisely, because once it was gone, the current rules would apply. Although the NCAA should allow kids to get an on campus job at the very least.
This isn't the same as having the school pay for them to play for the college. There would be too much of a conflict of interest for that.
If a student on an academic scholarship to be an engineer got a paid internship to work for an engineer during the summer, they aren't expected to give up their scholarship.
Granted the situations aren't the same, but a small amount of money for doing something you are good at seems to be the American way. And by continuing to follow the archaic amateurism rules, which are forgotten during the Olympics by the way, the NCAA is as much a contributing factor to the scandals as the agents, boosters and dirty players and coaches.
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