To the editor:
John Calipari has set the trend for college sports. His approach to recruitment has irrevocably taken the word student out of the phrase student athlete. His pitch promises a year of glory and a quick transition and opportunity to play for pay in the NBA. It has nothing to do with the athlete’s ability to achieve a college education. I’m sure that John will tell you that the athlete still has the opportunity to remain at the college level and finish his education, but, realistically, how many 18- or 19-year-old kids are going to forgo potential multimillion-dollar contracts and stay in school?
John’s approach is both cynical and misleading. Although a good number of his athletes will be drafted, how many of those kids will actually succeed at the professional level? What happens if they don’t succeed? Will John care? I doubt it. People tend to forget that Calipari wrecked two college basketball programs because of recruiting violations. Now he has found a way to operate within the letter of the rules and win at the expense of his athletes.
Calipari is not alone in adopting this approach to recruit so-called four- or five-star athletes. He has just taken it to a new level. In the beginning, student athletes were students first, then athletes. In recent years the reverse has been too often true. Today in many cases we just have athletes. It’s the money thing.