Morten Jensen is writing about basketball, and I think he’s correct in thinking that the NCAA is in a competition that it doesn’t realize it’s in, with other places 18 year olds could play, and get paid.
“In short: It’s time for the NCAA to wake up and enter the 21st century. Today’s world offers multiple paths towards the same goal. For the NCAA to insist on walking just one could ultimately mean their downfall. “
For basketball, I could see an increasing number of kids playing “somewhere” and getting paid, preparing for the NBA draft, instead of playing in college for basically nothing. I mean the true “one and done” players aren’t really getting much of an educational benefit from the NCAA, they are just getting playing time and exposure, which can be gotten elsewhere for many. (Not all, but the highest level recruits really don’t need the NCAA for hype as much as they once did.)
For college football though, which is part of the equation in how the NCAA decides to handle any changes to athletics, the situation is quite different. 18-19 year olds don’t have another place to play that comes close to the exposure and coaching that college football provides, and the NFL is in a pretty cushy position where they have a “free” minor league system in the NCAA. Someone else is going to have to develop, and grow, an alternative “minor league” system of football, which no one has really done yet, though there have been some efforts.
The NFL and NCAA are unlikely to see any of them as a threat until a truly high-ranked HS athlete chooses that route instead of college football. I don’t know if that’ll happen, but the fiercer competition on the basketball side may force the NCAA’s hand to do something different when it comes to athletes.
Or, it could just allow basketball to lose recruits to keep the beast that is college football running exactly the way it does now.
Until someone creates an alternate.