SPORTS: NBA’s delayed-entry rule, Michelin’s move and more

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So much news, so little space.

Item: The NBA and its players’ association enter into a new collective bargaining agreement that will increase the age for draft eligibility to 19, or to one year after an athlete’s high school class has graduated.

Reaction: Perhaps

the NBA and its players’ association believed they were tossing those involved in college basketball a bone by raising the age limit.

If so, it is a bone that likely will stick in the throats of the collegians.

As the NCAA continues to try to implement strong academic performance measures-and measurements that have penalties attached based on the premise that those athletes who enroll will be students-it seems there will be a likelihood that young men with little interest in academics will be forced to use college as a one-year way station while waiting to become draft-eligible.

Sure, there are other options, such as the NBA’s developmental league, but let’s be honest. What’s the best way for an NBA prospect to increase his value … playing in obscurity in the developmental league or performing on national television for a major college program?

In recruiting, college coaches will have to decide whether having these one-year wonders on their rosters is worth it, especially when they know that once basketball season is over, those players intent on becoming draft-eligible are likely to bag their classroom obligations to prepare for tryouts.

Those who do leave as academically ineligible will cause the team’s APR-Academic Performance Rate-to suffer which, in turn, could lead to a loss of scholarships.

Admittedly, there is no easy answer to the age-limit conundrum but, either following the baseball or hockey model (the high school graduate either goes pro or waits three years) or no age limit at all would seem much better options than the middle-of-theroad approach the NBA has taken.

Item: Lawrence North High School’s Greg Oden and Michael Conley announce they will attend Ohio State University.

Reaction: First, there rarely has been a more obvious example of faulty news judgment than when the local daily made this “scoop” its top page one story on a recent weekday, and this from a newspaper that has been editorially critical of the overexposure and exploitation of high school athletes. Practice what you print.

Second, Buckeye (and former Butler University) coach Thad Matta evidently has no qualms about going for the quick fix in recruiting Oden who, given the multimillions a shoe company will throw at him, is unlikely to stay in Columbus for more than one year. To this point, the youngster has said all the right things about wanting to pursue a college education. Yet when they show him the money, how can he say no?

Item: Oden’s commitment to Ohio State means the beginning of the end for IU coach Mike Davis.

Reaction: Davis’ situation hasn’t changed. All he needs to do is just win, baby.

Item: Michelin announces it will cover the costs of refunds for ticket-holders to this year’s U.S. Grand Prix, and will purchase 20,000 tickets for next year’s race.

Reaction: I guess I’ll have to put the Michelins back on my car. And refunds from the French … is there anything sweeter? Still, it’s interesting that the tire-maker continued to point the blame for the Formula One fiasco at others. In any case, the company’s gesture wasn’t just right, it was the absolutely necessary thing to do.

Item: Marion and six of the seven contiguous counties, save for Morgan, pass the food and beverage tax, the key piece of funding for the new stadium and expansion of the Indiana Convention Center.

Reaction: Break the dirt and start the construction, already. Actually, the final step-a lease with the Indianapolis Colts-remains before the ceremonies and work can begin. My hope is the Colts and owner Jimmy Irsay take the unusual step among professional franchises and recognize the sacrifice being made by Hoosiers to provide the Colts with a state-of-the-art facility. Maybe start by waiving that $48 million buyout from the previous lease. (Yeah, I know; fat chance).

Item: The NCAA last week doled out 58 post-graduate scholarships to springsport athletes. The total for the academic year: 174. At $7,500 per scholarship, that comes to a more than $1.3 million investment in the next generation of the best and brightest.

Reaction: This news is the most likely not to be reported by the media. Why? It’s too positive.

Benner is a former sports columnist for The Indianapolis Star. His column appears weekly.To comment on this column, go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.comor send email to

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