Archive for Saturday, December 13, 2003

Mayer: Don’t look for pros to give back to colleges soon

December 13, 2003


Not sure where I read it, but there was an analyst who had a marvelous plan for making the National Football League and National Basketball Association pay for benefits from their great collegiate farm systems -- to which they now contribute virtually nothing.

I'm hazy on the amounts, but the pros would pay a school something like $1 million if they snatched an athlete after his freshman year, $750,000 after the sophomore season, $500,000 for juniors and $250,000 for seniors they drafted. The NFL currently can't take guys until after the junior year, but the NBA doesn't have even that modicum of decency.

Enforceable? Lordy, no. College would love it, but the only way it would work would be for the NFL and NBA to generously adopt the plan themselves. That's as likely to happen as a peaceful dual surrender by Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein on Christmas Eve. You know the old bit: Why buy a cow when milk is cheaper?

The professionals aren't about to compensate colleges when they can use their millions to kidnap high schoolers, nab foreigners and nail early-departure American kids. All that money also goes to hustle new arenas, pay front-office staffs and coaches and get the athletes out of trouble via high-powered lawyers. Help the schools that incubate people? Humbug!

Makes you wonder if the future of college ball lies in the Stanfords, Northwesterns, Vanderbilts, Notre Dames and similar schools with high academic credentials. They might lure topflight student-athletes who are not quite all-world but who will stick around at least three years. Guess you could throw in the likes of Duke, but Mike Krzyzewski already has lost key guys to the NBA. Could Ivy League schools be making more waves down the line?

Stanford surely made Kansas's approach to the game last week look poor, not too smart. But then KU started three juniors and came in with senior Jeff Graves and still got out-psyched. Man, was Mike Lee missed.

Don't know, but it's so muddled anymore it's tough to keep track. But it would have been reasonable for KU to get from the NBA a million bucks from the early outs of Drew Gooden and Paul Pierce and another $500,000 for the way it primed Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison for the draft.

Just call it a holiday dream in which the NFL and NBA aren't about to play Santa Claus.

  • I've heard several good basketball men mention that Kansas's J.R. Giddens has the wherewithal to wind up like one of those "Arizona types." Had a vague idea, but really got the message watching 'Zona romp past Texas Tuesday night.

The 6-foot-6 Andre Iguodala, 6-4 Hassan Adams, 6-3 Mustafa Shakur and 6-1 Salim Stoudamire went on the kind of tear that the promising 6-5 Giddens might be capable of before too long. You talk about athletes in action, man, those Lute Olson Wildcats were awesome at times. As for a different combination of names, throw in 'Zona's Channing Frye (has to be a stockbroker) and there's a unique roll call. Not many Bobs, Bills and Jims.

But if Stanford didn't show the Jayhawks how far they have to go to be a Big 12 and national force, Missouri and Texas with their depth and muscle surely have. Texas was manhandled by Arizona, and it was missing point guard T.J. Ford, but what a batch of players. Right now, KU isn't near the level of Arizona, Duke, Florida, UConn, North Carolina, Georgia Tech and their ilk, maybe even Mizzou and Texas. The potential is there if the injury problem doesn't continue, but there are many holes in the dike that must be plugged before the league season rolls around. Who'll be the Dutch boys with big thumbs?

  • During the great season Kansas State football star Darren Sproles has been having, there have been frequent references to the report he grew up wanting to come here and got turned away because former coach Terry Allen considered him too small.

But consider the disarray KU was in during the 2001 season when the talent was down, Allen was a dead duck and the Jayhawks were groping for any semblance of respectability. Sproles might have been thrown into a mix where his specialties of running the ball and returning kicks would have been lost in the turbulence of a lousy season.

Sure, Mark Mangino would have known what to do with Sproles last year and this, for darn sure. But would Darren have been so disheartened he'd transferred?

He chose K-State where the system and the infrastructure were tailored to his emergence as a Heisman Trophy prospect, at least for next season. Bad for Kansas, but sure as heck good for Darren and KSU.

  • It hardly seems possible another Christmas is at hand, that the past year has been so enjoyable in so many ways and that the future looks pretty good.

One of my growing enjoyments during this season is the tendency of more and more people in the community to decorate their abodes in high spirits. That's become so good it even negates the fact the Kansas University campus with all its penchant for social correctness turns into a black hole at night. It once was so pretty.

Drove by the other night and wondered how long before some rump group will start a movement to make them turn off the spotlights on the Memorial Campanile because it looks too much like a Christmas candle -- or, God forbid, a glorification of war.

But that's just a tiny bump in the road because there are so many delightful things and wonderful people to enjoy over the holidays.

Here's wishing you a Cool Yule, a Frantic First and a resounding Jayhawk football victory in the Tangerine Bowl.

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