Wednesday, 13 June 2007

CIS AGM Motions with possible effects on basketball

Interesting developments have arisen from this week's CIS Annual General Meetings (or "AGM) that could have an effect on basketball in a couple of ways. Sources indicate that among the motions being put forth are Letters of Intent for student/athletes and the ability for a first-year student to transfer to a CIS school without having to sit out a year prior to their second year (applies only to the year between their first and second year).

Letters of Intent have been discussed among those in the basketball community for years as a solution to kids verbally committing and then later fleeing to another school without repercusion. Unfortunately, I'm not completely aware of the full legalities of Letters of Intent in the U.S. although as good friend Dave "Wellsie" Wells notes in an email, Letters of Intent in the U.S. are not even governed by the NCAA National Letters of Intent site. My take from the perspective of a coach recruiting kids is that it would help solidify the roster earlier and make a coach's life easier. However my take as a parent or a student/athlete is to question how binding the contract is; what little I know about contract law is that for a contract to be legal both parties must receive some consideration, so if this is the case then only those student/athletes receiving financial assistance (or anything else of consideration) in return for their binding commitment would fit. Beyond that, issues such as which governing body oversees the contracts, how to arbitrate in the event contracts are broken and many other possible issues need to be addressed. In other words, what process takes over in the event of a party breaking the contract or other. As well, practically speaking, how many basketball programs are funded to the tune of adding another $30,000 to $35,000 to their annual budgets strictly for student/athlete bursaries? Scholarships/bursaries are a solid idea on the surface but how many programs actually have the budget to pay their players year after year? (12 student athletes getting $3,500 per year over 5 years amounts to over $200,000 in cash outlays strictly for scholarships/bursaries. My current take is that the administrative issues alone need to be well thought through with the aid of legal teams to design a proper structure that ensures all parties who enter into these contracts are well served and, more importantly, that a proper arbitration support system is available for the inevitable challenges that will occur at some point (and who will foot the bill to pay for the lawyers).

The "transfer after first year without sitting out" rule appears to have more practical merit as young men, some still as young as 17 years old, can make mistakes with what is in many cases the most important decision they've made up to that point in their lives. By allowing those who may have made the quote/unquote "wrong" decision initially to reconsider without missing playing time, the system is providing an out for the kids. As Wellsie suggests, this rule could make it much more appealing for Canadians who spent their first season in the U.S. to return to the CIS as they could play immediately. It has also been suggested that this rule may encourage the recruiting process to continue even though a player has gone to a certain school for first-year. From a purely basketball perspective, the idea of making a young kid sit out a year has ripple effects down the road since, with the five year eligibility rule, a student/athlete playing five years plus sitting another out means six years of school. Unless the student/athlete moves on to do graduate work (very few do), this helps no one in my opinion and can provide an academic crutch that in the long run probably doesn't help the kid in my opinion. Undergraduate academic programs are three and four years for a reason and spending six years (or more) in university to get a 3 or 4 year degree, in the long run can lead to complacency when the student/athletes basketball career ends and the kid is faced with assimilating into mainstream society.

Apparently, the motions should be discussed and possibly voted upon this week. We'll try to provide more information if and when it becomes available.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

They must be tied together. I a player signs a letter he has to go to that school and not be eligible anywhere else, unless he stays the year, then transfers for his second without missing a year.