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Monday, August 29, 2011

sad news about Javaris Crittenton

Javaris Crittenton, a high school basketball star in metro Atlanta, was given an athletic scholarship by Georgia Tech (my alma mater). He played for the requisite one season before leaving for the NBA. Unfortunately his NBA career was a bust, and now he is being sought by the FBI on a murder charge.

This is a very sad situation. Wikipedia says that Crittenton had a 3.5 GPA in high school, but I don't know how to interpret a credential from Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy. It's quite likely that Crittenton was admitted by Georgia Tech primarily for his athleticism and that all parties knew at the time of admission that "one-and-done" was the plan.

I have blogged previously on the potential destructiveness of one-and-done. It is a cancer in college athletics and specifically NCAA basketball. Football does not face one-and-done because virtually no athlete of age 18 or 19 has the strength and stamina to play in the NFL. Baseball and hockey operate minor leagues for the athlete who is not interested in, or gifted for, academics. Basketball, however, abuses the NCAA -- whose member schools willingly allow themselves to be abused in pursuit of revenue and prestige. It stinks.

If Crittenton had never been admitted to Georgia Tech and had never played in the NBA, his case would be local news only. In that sense, his name is being dragged through the mud specifically because he was a high-profile athlete. Is this fair to him? Arguably, yes. Visibility is a two-edged sword; it comes with the scholarship value and the NBA signing bonus. Should he be considered innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt? Of course. Should Georgia Tech and former coach Paul Hewitt be criticized for engaging in one-and-done deals? Definitely, as should many other universities and coaches be criticized.

The NCAA has the means to stop one-and-done. All that's required is for an athletic scholarship, once granted, to count against the university's cap on scholarships for the entire four years. Universities would then be very careful to recruit student athletes who have a good-faith intention of pursuing an academic degree. You would see a lot less one-and-done. Will the NCAA do it? I've got my doubts, and that's why we probably need a federal government agency to regulate university athletics.