Do you think college hoops would be better off going two-and-through? (Eternal colloquialism hat tip: John Gasaway.) Does your particular moral code make you feel queasy about a system that prevents elite high school players from taking their talents to the NBA draft the minute the minute they turn 18? Do you think one-and-done hurts the quality of top-level college hoops? Do you just flat dislike the one-and-done rule?
Chances are, if you're an NBA fan, a college hoops fan, or a fan of basketball in general, you answered yes to one or more of these questions. Most people seem to agree that the one-and-done rule -- while no doubt overblown in its importance, given the small numbers of truly one-and-done players on offer each season -- needs to be fixed in one way or another. Proponents of amateur athletics and the ideal of the student-athlete think players need more time in college to develop. Proponents of a free market, or something close to it, wonder why high school players have to wait until they're 19 to be drafted in the first place. It's a big sloppy mess, this argument, and it hasn't changed much in the six years since the NBA collectively bargained the rule into existence.
As you already know, the NBA is set to tackle the issue again this offseason as part of its potentially disastrous collective bargaining negotiations. Does the NCAA have any say in the matter? Not really. That said, when NCAA president Mark Emmert assumed his post last year, he told reporters he would aggressively tackle the one-and-done rule -- which he sees an antithetical to the goals of student athletics -- in conversations with NBA commissioner David Stern.
He has now done so. As Emmert told the Indianapolis Star, he made his view on the topic clear to National Basketball Players Association and NBA ownership in advance of the two sides' oncoming CBA negotiations:
Emmert also reiterated that he is not in favor of the NBA draft rule that has led to one-and-done basketball players. [...] "Obviously we can't and won't get involved in any of their labor negotiations. That's their business, not ours," Emmert said of the NBA and its players' association. "I have talked to the leadership of both organizations. They know our general views on that, and they'll have to decide what's in their best interest."
Oh, to be a fascinated fly on the wall during those phone calls.
Despite the pervasive effects any new rule would have on college basketball, Emmert is basically powerless to control what the rule might be. In essence, any discussion he has with the NBA is a matter of salesmanship, of convincing both sides that their best interests align with the NCAA's.
But does that mean another year of college hoops for the nation's young talent? Does it mean a baseball-esque system? What changes would Emmert really like to see? If getting rid of the one-and-done means a return to the pre-2006 standard, would Emmert be satisfied? Or does the opportunity to get kids on college campuses for a mere eight months make the rule a worthwhile sacrifice after all? Shouldn't the NCAA want as many kids to come to college as possible? Is that part of its mission? Wasn't there plenty of academic nonsense in big-time college athletics well before 2006 anyway? Is the one-and-done rule really that bad?
There are no simple answers here, no magic solutions that will make everyone happy. (Or, if there are, I'm just not seeing them.) The NCAA will ultimately have very little to do with the outcome. Emmert and fans of the game he oversees are in the same boat, anxiously waiting for the next massive structural change to come down from on high.
If you thought last summer's realignment spree was bad -- if you thought any college hoops-related changes were an afterthought then -- you ain't seen nothing yet.