The 12 presidents in the league sent a letter to the presidents of schools in the other power conferences this week to make recommendations about the future of college sports. Everything was pretty standard until point No. 7.
Address the "one and done" phenomenon in men's basketball. If the National Basketball Association and its Players Association are unable to agree on raising the age limit for players, consider restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men's basketball.
That's right. Since a few college freshmen decide to leave school for a career every year, the Pac-12 presidents think it would be a good idea to not let any freshman basketball players be eligible their freshmen years. They're so sick of young men taking advantage of the opportunity to make millions of dollars that they just want to ban freshmen altogether.
Most reasonable people would see this as a brash response to something that isn't really a problem, but college presidents haven't really proven to be reasonable people that live in reality. So let's lay it out, step-by-step, why this is a terrible idea.
1. We've tried this before — and not just in one sport
More NCAA analysis
More NCAA analysis
The NCAA used to ban college athletes from playing as freshmen, but repealed that rule because coaches and schools were upset about it. The original reasoning for the ban was that the NCAA thought athletes couldn't adjust to school while playing sports — this was a time when athletes were amateurs more than professionals and the NCAA didn't make billions of dollars in revenue.
There is no evidence that overturning the ban has had a negative impact on athletes. While the Pac-12 presidents will likely claim they're doing this in the spirit of academics, they want a way to show that they care about academics so they don't lose their lawsuits, but if that were true, they'd be banning freshmen from all sports, not just one.
2. This will hurt non-one-and-dones
There were 10 one-and-done players in Division I college basketball this year, but there were thousands of incoming freshmen. The Pac-12 presidents want to stunt the development of a lot of them — many who need four years of playing experience to improve their games for NBA or European opportunities — because 10 people decided after their freshman years of college that they want the chance to make millions of dollars. Sounds smart, right?
The one-and-done trend has been blown out of proportion, and that's highlighted by this letter. The Pac-12 presidents are willing to hurt thousands of players to stop a few from doing something that really shouldn't be a moral issue. It's a solution without a problem, except ...
3. It's all part of the charade
The Pac-12 presidents do have a problem. They're suddenly being sued for taking all the money in a price-fixed system, and they need to show they actually care about education. The problem with valuing education over athletics means making less money off of athletics, so this is part of the solution.
Even if 10 players a year choose to forego Division I basketball to play in Europe because of this new rule, people will still watch college basketball. The Pac-12 presidents know they don't need Andrew Wiggins, Aaron Gordon, Julius Randle or Jabari Parker, because new stars will take their places.
So if the Pac-12 presidents get this rule passed, they'll have evidence for the courts that they care about education — while still allowing ridiculous road schedules and long tournaments — and they'll get to keep bringing in money. It's a win-win, and the only cost is hurting the thousands of athletes who need their freshman years for development.
Remember, everyone, it's all about the kids. At least, that's what the university presidents keep telling us.