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April 8, 2014

RONN MOTT: Basketball and Done

I guess I’m going to have to change my mind about the “One and Done” rule. It would seem the future professionals wearing university uniforms — national runner-up Kentucky is an example — has proven me a fool. Why should I care about the education they are getting, or not getting? Why should I care if an ordinary student sweats, strains and burns the midnight oil to make good grades and, ultimately, get the grades he is working for? Why should it matter?

It matters because it is a damn lie. If you are good enough to be selected by the pros after one measly basketball season at a university or college, the grades don’t matter. In fact, some of the “one and dones” have never been in a college classroom. Many can’t write a complete sentence. It would not matter at all except for the fact that emblazoned on their chests is the name of a college or university that purports to the idea that their justification for existence is training young people and awarding degrees to the level of that education.

Hypocrisy is just a sign that a university is much more concerned about these professional athletes winning games than it is about training future scientists, leaders and the person that will teach your child in elementary and high school. It’s beginning to smell more and more like the rotting corpse of the once-great Roman Empire. (Rome once had schools that taught people to read and write and know basic numbers. And many of these schools were free or cost very little.)

I haven’t tallied up the amount of these so-called student athletes that are giving up the student part of their names and turning to the National Basketball Association. Someone who has taken more time in the study of this problem, perchance, will do so. From my small observation corner, and very little time spent on it, at Indiana University, the 6’11” center who has spent one year there, Noah Vonleh, is going to put his name in for the draft.

Young Mr. Vonleh went to a prep school to achieve grades good enough to get him into the IU basketball program. Why bother if he was only going to be there for a year? Well, the reason is a stage well-lighted and televised on national networks so the entire country knows about his basketball skills.

The coach at Syracuse University is beside himself because his point guard has put his name in to be drafted. Kansas is losing two: the big man inside who hurt his back before the NCAA Tournament; and Andrew Wiggins, the youngest of the Canadian family of basketball sons. There has been talk about at least two of Michigan’s players going to the draft. I have no idea about Michigan State’s potential NBA players, and I suppose there is at least a handful on the West Coast turning pro.

This doesn’t affect small colleges as much, nor does it affect the mid-majors as much, but when something nice happens, you want to stand up and cheer about it. Young Mr. Ron Baker, a top-notch shooting guard for the Wichita Shockers, has told all he will return for his junior year and wear the black and gold uniform.

I wrote recently about the fine mess university sports are heading for. The NBA is the poison that has ruined this once-great game. And the sheer fact of the matter is they don’t care. You might ask the question: If you don’t wish to learn and you only want to play basketball, why go to college at all? Elementary, my dear Watson: It’s the big spotlight. The only place to show off your skills where the entire world gets to see you.

Some of these young men will make many dollars and some of them will rue the day they made this decision. University presidents are providing a basketball farm club for the NBA, and the athletes are not getting paid for it. And this action makes hypocrites of all of them.

I hope I live long enough to see this rule get into the dust bin of academics, but I doubt it.

Ronn Mott, a longtime radio personality in Terre Haute, writes commentaries for the Tribune-Star. His pieces are published online Tuesday and Thursday on, and in the print and online editions on Saturday.

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