The new basketball legislation (No. 2008-79) establishes May 8 as the date by which student-athletes must remove their name from the NBA draft to retain eligibility. In addition, the proposal removes the option for draft entrants who are not selected to resume college eligibility. Student-athletes with eligibility remaining previously had up to 30 days after the draft to declare their intention to return.
Coaches supported the shorter declaration period because it will assist in roster planning for the upcoming year. The change also is intended to encourage student-athletes to refocus on academics sooner after the season ends and decrease the potential for violations of amateurism rules.
The proposal is a softer version of the original measure the Atlantic Coast Conference proposed, which would have set the day before the spring National Letter of Intent signing period in mid-April as the deadline. Council members, however, favored May 8 based on a recommendation from the NBA and the NBA Players’ Association. The NBA recently changed its policies to allow student-athletes to work out with individual teams in late April, after the deadline for submitting their names into the draft. Council members believe that new policy allows players to obtain relevant feedback on their potential draft status.
If the Board of Directors approves the change, the legislation would become effective August 1, 2009.
Tar Heel fans undoubtedly are going to have mixed feelings about this having had three players "test the waters" only to see them all return and win a national title. Had this rule been in effect last year chances are UNC loses both Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. Affording them the adequate time to use the process and make a proper determination of their stock worked out rather well for UNC, though Lawson's return probably had more to do with the Chapel Hill Police than anything else.
Since the NBA and NBAPA recommended the May 8th date, you have to wonder if the process as it stands now will be adjusted. If the drop dead date is going to be May 8th then I think the first deadline should be a week after the NCAA Championship game which is how it works in college football. The NFL draft entry deadline is a week after the BCS title game. If NBA teams are willing to look at these players in April and perhaps even move up the draft camp to the end of April versus the end of May, the process can still provide most of the information it is providing now with the bonus of getting it done in a timely manner so college coaches can move on with roster moves involving late signees.
Overall this seems like a step in the right direction. There is no reason the players and the NBA cannot both be served while also being sensitive to the college coaches.