When people rail against the inequities of the NCAA, they're typically talking about money. A college basketball coach can make $10 million in a year because he generates that much value for his university, but also because that money has to go somewhere, and it certainly isn't going to the players. This strikes most as unfair, because it is. It's also obvious.
Less obvious, at least to the layman, are all of the little injustices. Players have to be amateurs or the purity of the games would be corrupted; it's totally cool if coaches are professionals. Players have to sit out a year if they want to leave a school; coaches can hop in and out of contracts whenever they need.
And then there are the scholarship structures, which allow things like this -- via the Indianapolis Star -- to happen:
Jared Drew was planning to take his last final exam on Tuesday, come home for a few days, then return to Saint Louis on Sunday for the start of summer school.
Instead, Drew said, he received a text that the coaching staff wanted to meet with him. At the meeting, Drew said coach Jim Crews told him the school was not going to renew his scholarship for next season.
“I was completely blindsided,” said Drew, a 2012 Cathedral graduate who redshirted last season. “I don’t believe they handled that situation as well as they could have. [Crews] basically told me I’m not the right fit for what he’s trying to do. I’m moving on, though.”
Reminder: Scholarships are not guarantees of a four-year stay. They are one-year, renewable, merit-based documents subject to review after each season. If a coach or athletic director decides to tell a player he is no longer welcome, all he has to do is not renew the player's scholarship. Then, that player has to transfer. Often, the player has to sit out a season in doing so.
Drew told the Star he was planning on appealing that rule, so he can play right away for whatever team ends up taking him on. Here's hoping his appeal is granted.
But this is just the latest example. The point is not just that this is allowed, but that it happens all the time, often in much quieter and more obscure fashion than this. (That's why, save instances in which a player or parent expresses outrage, it's tough to tell how often runoffs happen. Rarely is it quite this blatant.) The same men who preach loyalty and maturity -- who sit in families' living rooms and promise the world to teenagers, who make millions of dollars while their players get classes and a dorm room -- are all too willing to cut a player loose for no reason other than he is no longer a "good fit," which usually means his scholarship is being given to someone more talented. And Drew is supposed to sit out a season?
It's wrong. It needs to change. Apparently, being both embarrassing and counterproductive -- Crews and his staff should be embarrassed by this, and if I'm a prospect's parent, I'm taking any and all Billikens promises with a fat grain of salt -- isn't enough to eradicate the practice. Apparently, the change will need to be imposed, rather than organic to the market. The NCAA needs to make a rule. Who else isn't holding their breath?