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The NBA and NCAA Making Me Feel Some Type of Way!

pic courtesy of slamolineSince 2006, the NBA has had a minimum age requirement of 19 in place for American basketball players to enter their annual draft. This became known as the one-and-done rule. This phrase best fits the description of high profile college basketball freshmen that play for one season and then bolt for the riches awaiting them in the NBA!

Many notable top NBA draft picks took this route: Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, DRose, John Wall, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.

After March Madness the focus of attention by college basketball media and fans shifts to the decisions made by freshmen in regards to entering the draft or remaining in school.

Since they’re projected to be the first two players selected in the upcoming 2015 NBA Draft, Jahlil Okafor (Duke) and Karl Anthony Towns (Kentucky) have been the main attention getters. This just further intensifies the ongoing debates on whether the age minimum should be increased or remain the same.

NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver strongly believes that increasing the minimum age requirement gives the NBA a better, more mature class of players filtering into the league each season.

Many associated with the NCAA dislike the current rule in place because they feel that it’s diminishing the quality of the game.

Loyal upperclassmen led teams are being replaced with inexperienced freshmen, many with no sense of dedication and loyalty. I may need to add a side note because just last Monday night, four highly gifted freshmen led the Duke Blue Devil’s and Coach K to a fifth NCAA national title defeating Wisconsin 68-63. These young men played unselfish and cohesively as a unit and we may never witness a collection of freshmen talent on one team like this again.

Whatever the reasons given by the critics of the current NBA minimum age requirement, I strongly believe that money is the true motivation for their resistance!

Although a one year increase to the minimum age requirement may not appear like such a big deal, to highly talented college basketball freshmen, it’s an extra year of unpaid labor denying them the opportunity to make some serious money!

Please let me make myself clear, I do understand that student-athletes are afforded an opportunity to obtain a paid for education. They also get free TV exposure from major networks, but student-athletes don’t get the opportunity to cash in on the revenue that they help generate.

The NCAA is currently in the middle of a 14 year $10.8 billion deal with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting which pays approximately $770 million annually for March Madness. According to Kantar media, March Madness has generated $7.5 billion from TV ads alone since 2005. In 2014 $1.3 billion was generated with even higher earnings projected from the 2015 NCAA Tournament! As of yet, no financial data is available for TV ads revenue from this year’s tournament. So the NCAA would benefit even more financially if the NBA players union would agree to a minimum age increase.

The NCAA are always quick to point out that they use 96% of the revenue generated from March Madness to benefit student-athletes through either programs, services or direct distribution to member Division I and II conferences and schools. Still the 4% left isn’t bad money from nearly $2 billion gained from just two revenue streams!

During NBA all-star weekend in February, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reiterated his desire to raise the minimum age requirement to 20. NBPA (National Basketball Players Association) Executive Director, Michele Roberts countered with, “Be happy with one-and-done, it’s not going to be two-and-done.”

I do question Silver’s motives though because I know he realizes the further back the minimum age requirement is pushed, the older the players will be when entering a rookie contract. So the longer the basketball player remains in school, the more favorable it is to NBA owners because it insures that their investments are in the prime of their careers while getting compensated under the lesser rookie pay scale contracts. Keep in mind that only the first two years are guaranteed under rookie contracts!

It is expected that the NBA players will opt-out of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement after the 2016-17season, especially since the new nine- year $24 billion media rights deal with ESPN and Turner Sports will be in place.

Also during the last CBA negotiations in 2011, the owners cried broke, but since that time the LA Clippers were purchased by Steve Ballmer for $2 billion. Since that purchase, there has been a massive rise in NBA franchise values. Now it appears to the players that the NBA owners were perpetrating the fraud!

Whether you agree that the NBA minimum age should be increased or not, it’s clearly evident that money is the motivation for both the NBA and NCAA to agree on the increase.

One thing is for certain though, Michele Roberts (NBPA) and Adam Silver (NBA) are headed towards an epic battle after the 2017 season. All of this is making me feel some type of way!

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