New NBA pact could kill NCAA’s one-and-done dilemma

College basketball may be one of the biggest benefactors of the soon-to-be ratified National Basketball Association labor settlement. Yes, that’s right, college basketball.

NBA owners and players are expected to approve the agreement rolled out by Commissioner David Stern and players association boss Billy Hunter over the weekend.

And while the deal has all types of provisions to save the owners $2.4 billion to $3.2 billion over 10 years and ensure competitive balance within the league, there are a bevy of so-called “B-list” issues—including drug testing and a minimum wage requirement for players to enter the draft—that still need to be ironed out.

The league’s current minimum age for players is 19, but NBA sources have said owners are quietly huddling about raising it to 20 starting with the new collective bargaining agreement. That would mean it would be in place for the current crop of college freshman and the 2012 draft.

The change would put an end to one of the NCAA’s most troubling problems; the one-and-done scenario in Div. I college basketball.

We should know for certain by week’s end. In the meantime, you can bet NCAA officials and men’s college basketball coaches everywhere are waiting anxiously.

Since the NBA instituted its minimum playing age to 19 in 2005, a host of star players have played one year in college and then jumped to the pros. The scenario means a player can come in, pass three or four classes during his first semester, then never attend a single class during his second semester on campus while playing out the season through March Madness, then bounce to the pros.

The players don’t have to go to class because flunking grades from their second semester wouldn’t render them ineligible until the following semester (or the beginning of the next season). By that time, these guys figure to have signed their first pro contract.

The one-and-done scenario, many have argued, totally distorts the notion of the student-athlete. Some argue that it gives an unfair advantage to schools willing to recruit such non-students, while others say it totally disrupts team-building and recruiting efforts to have such a revolving door policy.

While having players only two years may not be the perfect solution, it would at least afford college basketball programs a modicum of continuity while creating a situation where a player has to put in some type of effort to pass classes for three semesters.

And who knows? In that extra year, some star players might find that academics are a worthy pursuit after all.

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