ELKHART — Notre Dame coach Mike Brey says an ongoing effort by first-year NBA commissioner Adam Silver to raise the minimum age for entry into the league from 19 to 20 is a step in the right direction for men’s college basketball.
Silver has said he will push for the raised age limit through collective bargaining with the NBA players’ association.
With a minimum age of 20 in place, the much-criticized “one-and-done” concept of playing college ball for one year would in theory bow to two and done.
“I think there’s a strong movement (for two and done),” Brey said during a speaking appearance in front of the Elkhart Rotary Club this week. “I think what they’d love to get is two and done, but if you’re one of those freaks of nature — Kevin Garnett, Kobe (Bryant) — just go out of high school. Go. But, if you come to (college), you got to give us two years. Because you know what, two years, they’re certainly not going to get their degree, but they’re going to be better-prepared, better-educated.”
Brey said the current one-and-done concept is “a total fake out. Those guys are just mercenaries. They don’t do much the second semester, because they know they’re going (pro).”
Brey said he believes the ideal resolution would be to follow Major League Baseball’s lead, which allows individuals to enter the draft out of high school, but if those players opt for college, they’re not eligible again until after three years.
“I don’t think that’s going to happen, though,” Brey said.
Brey also said during his Monday, June 23, appearance that he doesn’t think “there’s much of a threat” that college athletes will unionize on the heels of a push by former college football player Kain Colter to have Northwestern players do so.
However, Brey added, “the NCAA will be thoroughly overhauled at some point,” fueled in part by the ongoing Ed O’Bannon vs. NCAA trial.
“What’s going to be the end game there on what we can do with our players?” Brey wondered. “I mean, does it get to the point Alabama can pay $50,000 to get the best quarterback? I don’t know what’s going to happen, but the one thing that will happen is the five power conferences (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC) will have autonomy after Aug. 15. So we’ll be able to do things with our players that other conferences won’t, so there will be a little disparity.”
Brey said there is resulting worry among “the mid-majors and lower that the NCAA tournament could become just the power conferences, (but) I don’t think CBS, TNT, which have paid an unbelievable amount (to telecast the event) will go for that. The Cinderellas are a part of the fabric of March, so I don’t think that will be harmed.”
Brey said the NCAA and its members are in a fluid period, just some of it due to clarifying how to interpret some of the rules.
As an example, he cited the ruling allowing “unlimited meals” for athletes, a move that came on the heels of UConn star Shabazz Napier declaring in April that there were nights he went to bed hungry.
“I find that hard to believe,” Brey said of Napier’s contention, “but anyway, the NCAA knee-jerked and said we can do anything with meals, and now we’re trying to interpret. Does that mean I can take my guys to Ruth’s Chris every night? That’s not really what the intent of the rule is. There’s an intent of being able to supplement their food.”
Some other Brey observations:
• The coach expressed excitement over his team’s Aug. 5-15 tour of Italy, in part because “the NCAA allows 10 full practices in preparation. So, it’s really a great summer for us as we try to get some young guys going and moving forward with our program.”
• Brey said last year’s move by Notre Dame from the Big East to the ACC should help some in recruiting Midwest prospects “who have grown up with Big Ten blinders on their whole life.”
He said names such as Duke and North Carolina resonate more with such individuals than some of the Big East names did, and that adding Louisville to the ACC also helps the cause.
Nevertheless, Brey added, “the great corridor for us is still D.C. to Boston.”