the ncaa sham

Ben Simmons in the 2015 McDonald's All-American Boys Game by TonyTheTiger via Wikipedia.orgJust in case you missed this, Ben Simmons has decided to forego the balance of his college experience and declare himself for the NBA draft.

This is a shock on par with hearing Donald Trump insult someone.

Simmons is another of the famous one and done, athletes who accept a college basketball scholarship with no intention of staying more than a year before leaving for the pros. Louisiana State University knew this when they signed Simmons, and there is no doubt this was the plan Simmons had all along.

In the year he was at LSU, reports are that Simmons was indifferent to even the sham of obtaining an education, and his attendance in the classroom was less than a tenured professor teaching History 101.

Given his attendance, it’s a surprise the NCAA would not scream this was a major violation and put Fresno State on probation.

This is not a knock against Simmons. A young man, or woman, has the right to quit school and go to work for a living. The fact Simmons chosen field of endeavor will be professional basketball is simply good fortune.

While the NBA has some responsibility in this, mainly for adopting a nonsensical rule to prevent them from looking completely stupid by paying a kid out of high school a lot of money only to find out he wasn’t ready, the main fault of this idiocy lies with the NCAA.

The NCAA, an organization that operates on the business model of a Bangkok brothel, seems massively indifferent to this issue and refuses to even see the harm.

The notion is, in the year the player is in school he will be exposed to the educational experience and hone his skills for the next level. And make a lot of money for the university and the NCAA.

Simmons will be a top pick, some say perhaps number one, but others note he played on a rotten, underachieving team and did not improve his ball handling or shooting skills, something that could hurt him in the eyes of the NBA suits.
Still, he has enormous talent and there is no question he will soon be listed as a newly minted millionaire.

Again, there is no blame on Simmons and he is far from the first, and in a twisted way the one and done actually use colleges and universities to their advantage, rather than the other way around. Why should he even pretend?

While most players may not be ready for the pros out of high school, there should be no denying them the opportunity to be drafted. In short, if they want to go to work and that work is basketball, why support a demented fantasy requiring someone to go to school for one year. If they turn into the next Kobe Bryant, great, if they fail miserably, then the team that drafted them pays the price.

The so-called college experience and educational opportunity was completely vacant for Ben Simmons.

The notion of the student-athlete has been a mockery for years, but for the NCAA to stand around like a pigeon covered statue and mouth platitudes about the welfare of the college athlete and protection of the institutions and not address an issue that insults the very notion of college athletics is vulgar in every sense.

The problem is fixable. One idea would be if a player left school before his eligibility was up, and without a degree, then for whatever years were remaining the school would lose a scholarship for those years. It would make the universities a little more circumspect in who they recruited, and if they wanted a kid for one year hoping that would be the final piece to a championship and were willing to take the hit if he left early, so be it.

If he left early with a degree, regardless of the sport, reward the school with an additional scholarship.

Naturally some would howl at this idea, claiming such a requirement would deny opportunity, but this is rubbish. If the kid wants to play professionally for a year, in China or Europe and then try for the NBA, he has that right. And no one talks about the kid who didn’t get a scholarship because it went to a one and done.

Youngsters who dream of being professional athletes have the right to leave any job, be it college sports or a car wash, and pursue that dream.

College athletics should stand for more than the sham the NCAA is perpetrating and the nauseating game of blackjack they play while dealing from the bottom of the deck.

But as long as the cash cows keep producing, and the NCAA lives in the myopic world of phony caring, nothing will change.

Ben Simmons in the 2015 McDonald's All-American Boys Game by TonyTheTiger via and used under a Creative Commons license.

Ric Latarski

Ric Latarski has written for a variety of publications in the Atlanta area, was a stringer for Time Magazine, did commentary for Georgia Public Radio and wrote the guidebook, Atlanta: 101 Great Choices. He now writes fiction and recently completed his first novel.