I had a second post on amateurism and college sports to write today, but will put it off to discuss... Mike Krzyzewski's thoughts on amateurism and college sports. Eamonn Brennan reported that the Duke coach and personification of evil was asked how to fix college basketball on an Oklahoma City radio program, and responded thusly:
"First of all college basketball doesn't control college basketball," Krzyzewski said. "The NBA controls college basketball. They are the ones along with the players union that sets the rule. College basketball just reacts to what the NBA does to include the early entry date. College basketball put out April 10. Well, that date doesn't mean anything. April 29 is when guys have a chance to put their names in the NBA draft.
"I think one of the main things that has to happen is college basketball has to have a relationship with the NBA," he said. "There should be someone in charge of college basketball who on a day-to-day basis sets an agenda for our great sport. We don't have anything like that. As a resolve we don't have a voice with the NBA or the players union and that's just kind of sad."
From there both Brennan and the radio hosts moved on to discussions about the one-and-done rule, where Krzyzewski was very diplomatic about not saying anything bad about Austin Rivers. And Krzyzewski has in the past complained about the one-and-done rule, saying "Once you come to college, I think you have to stay two years." But note that in this particular interview he's not complaining about athletes leaving after one year.
No, Krzyzewski is mad that the NCAA set a (ridiculously early) deadline for players to declare for the NBA draft, and the NBA declined to follow suit. As a result, players are spending the same amount of time they used to in making a life-changing career decision at the expense of college basketball coaches having next year's lineup in flux for an extra few weeks. Recruiting becomes a little difficult, as the coach has to wait out Mason Plumlee's Hamlet imitation.
There's a trend about Krzyzewski's suggestions to reform college basketball — they all direct more power in the process to the coaches. You rarely hear him argue that one-and-done is a bad rule because players should be free to go pro whenever they'd like; no he's typically arguing for a mandatory two or three year stint once teams set foot on campus. Somehow if high school basketball associations passed a similar rule — say that all seniors must declare their college intentions by January because those announcement ceremonies were interfering with exams or something — I don't think Krzyzewski would stop recruiting just to appease their partners at the lower level. He'd low them off and recruit as he damn well pleases.
Now make no mistake about it — college basketball is a job to most of these students, even if their NBA hopes are limited. Basketball is paying their way through school, dominating their social life, and preventing them from having summer jobs and the like; it, at this point in time, is their livelihood. And to limit their decision to change their circumstances, by going pro or just going elsewhere, solely to make a coach's job easier, is a pretty lousy thing.
Now I think there is something college athletics could do to circumvent the one-and-done rule, although they won't like it. More on that tomorrow though.