It was amusing this week to watch Emmert trot out “the collegiate model” as he was confronted with the reality of the “one and done” freshman. “One and done” freshmen — or players who have no interest in college and are enrolling only until they turn 19 and become eligible for the professional draft — have been a hot topic in the runup to this weekend’s Final Four. That’s because John Calipari, the Kentucky coach, has become the master of recruiting them — and his team is favored to win the championship. Calipari is completely upfront about what he is doing: He is gaming the system by bringing in players who need a way station until they are old enough to turn pro. Indeed, Calipari tells them when he is recruiting them that he doesn’t expect them to stay for more than a year.
Calipari, complained Emmert, was “throwing away the collegiate model.” But, he’s not, because in the big-money sports of football and men’s basketball, the collegiate model is a fiction. Rather, Calipari is dispensing with the hypocrisy that everyone else goes along with, including our basketball-mad president, who allows himself to be interviewed while filling out his March Madness brackets, but can’t bring himself to utter a word on behalf of the athletes that college sports so ruthlessly exploits.
In his great novel about totalitarianism, “1984,” George Orwell described the three slogans of The Party: War Is Peace. Freedom Is Slavery. Ignorance Is Strength.
The N.C.A.A. has its own equivalents. Athletes Are Students. College Sports Is Not About Money. Graduation Is The Goal.
By the way, the NBA deserves its own criticism for its own collaborating with the NCAA cartel. Particularly given that NCAA athletes aren’t permitted just compensation, the exclusion of 18-year-olds from the draft is outrageous.