The NCAA set a new deadline for a college player to withdraw from the NBA draft, declare his loyalty to college basketball and preserve his college eligibility. The new withdrawal deadline is mid-April, just a week or so after the Final Four and two weeks ahead of the NBA requirement for a prospect to declare for the NBA draft. It is also two months prior to the NBA's withdrawal deadline.
For comparison purposes, the "old deadline" (which is barely a year old) is currently May 8, which is still more than a month before the NBA's withdrawal deadline.
Many believe that this new rule (as well as the old rule) is flawed, and they are absolutely correct. The new deadline is clearly not in the best interest of the players and doesn't allow the players sufficient time to gather information in the draft process. Unintended consequences to the rule are sure to follow, and most will hurt the players. Draft decisions and the distractions that accompany them will creep into the college season, agents and runners will take a more active in-season role and mistakes by players are certain to be made -- the same kind of mistakes that prompted the "test the waters" rule in the first place.
Despite the rule's problems and justified criticisms, I have no issue with the NCAA setting a deadline for a player to make a binding decision regarding his professional future. It is entirely reasonable for the NCAA to have a standard for participation, and it is not wrong for the NCAA to expect its players to meet that standard and the consequential deadlines.
What is regrettable, however, is the lack of fundamental principle behind the NCAA's rule. The NCAA's "test the waters" rule is not based upon any foundational belief. It is simply another wild stab at a moving target. And that is the wrong way for the NCAA to approach any issue, let alone a complex one like a kid's decision to declare for the NBA draft. There has to be a better way. And I believe there is one.
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