Last week, University of Florida center Noel Nerlens suffered a season-ending knee injury. The incident is sure to have an impact on more than Florida as Nerlens was projected by many experts to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft after only one season with the Gators.
On Saturday, Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi said pro leagues — like the NFL and NBA — should bear the financial burden when a star like this goes down before he is able to reach his draft goal.
If I’m University of Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel and I never fully recover from a severe knee injury suffered earlier this week in a loss to the Florida Gators, I’d sue Stern, the NBA and the NBA Players Association for the $200 million Noel might have made in the course of his professional career.
Bianchi’s point is that the NBA and the NFL force college athletes to go to college rather than going right to the pros
It would be one thing if Noel had been hurt after signing a mega-million-dollar contract with the Magic, but it’s inexcusable that he has risked his future masquerading for one year as a college “student-athlete.”
Why does the NBA — and the NFL for that matter — continue to force basketball players to go to college when they have no intention or desire to be there? If an elite athlete wants to play in the NBA — or the NFL for that matter — he should be able to go pro whenever he wants.
The column raises similar points to one written last week by Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer that suggested South Carolina junior Jadeveon Clowney sit out next college football season to avoid getting injured. Bianchi’s column said there shouldn’t be draft restrictions stopping Clowney, either.
How is it that hockey players, baseball players, tennis players and golfers can turn pro right after high school, but basketball and football players cannot? Could it be because college football and college basketball provides a free minor-league system for the NFL and NBA and unlimited marketing for the future stars of those leagues?
“We’re calling these kids student-athletes, but they’re not,” says high-powered Orlando attorney John Morgan. “They’re professional athletes forced to play for free in a minor league called the NCAA. It’s indentured servitude for the college athletes. The NBA, the NFL and the NCAA are in collusion. Everybody is making a lot of money but the kids.”
– Bill Bradley, contributing editor