Column: “A Year of Readiness” is a stupid idea

Forced redshirt wouldn’t solve anything.

by David Nelson

The shootout, the 35-second shot clock and forcing freshman student-athletes to sit out their first year at school are well-intentioned concepts, but each one is as asinine as the next.

Last Thursday, a report from the University of Maryland’s student newspaper — the Diamondback — said Big Ten officials are discussing the implementation of “A Year of Readiness.”

Essentially, the plan would put a mandatory redshirt on freshmen.

The logic behind it would be to allow student-athletes a year to get acclimated to school rather than forcing them to try balancing athletics and education.

It’s an idea that holds plenty of merit — especially in football, where everyone and their sister is redshirted.

From a basketball standpoint, though, this idea contains massive detractors.

Let’s start with recruiting.

One can only imagine the look on a potential basketball recruit’s face as Richard Pitino looks into the eyes of a probable one-and-done player and says, “You’ll need to wait a year before you can play.”

Half of the first 18 selections in the 2014 NBA Draft were freshmen, including the top four picks.

Freshmen and college basketball go together. Just take a look at No. 1 Kentucky.

Two of the Wildcats’ top four scorers — Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns — are freshmen, and Kentucky wouldn’t be undefeated after 27 games without them.

So not only would restricting men’s basketball players hurt Big Ten recruiting, but it would also hurt the sport itself.

It would take away fans’ ability to watch some of the most talented and athletic teenagers play basketball.

Not only that, but this new rule would also delay the inevitable — players leaving early.

When Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell came to the Barn for a January matchup with the Gophers, the freshman absolutely lit up the gym.

Russell dropped 27 points on Minnesota, a performance that NBA scouts will play and replay.

The Buckeye will likely be making his way to the pros this offseason, so why force players like him to redshirt and delay their trip to the big time?

Education, apparently.

“What I like about the concept of the proposal is it puts right up front the basic issue: Are we basically a quasi-professional activity or primarily an educational activity?” Maryland president Wallace Loh told the Diamondback. “And if you support it, you are basically saying very clearly the No. 1 priority is the education of the students.”

If education is the priority, why force students to stay just one year? Why not adopt the NCAA’s football standard and make these student-athletes stay for three before they move on to professional sports?

At least that way they might have a shot at earning their degree, rather than simply delaying their future.

“A Year of Readiness” is an idea that’s incredibly well-intentioned, but it fails on too many levels to be seen as a serious attempt to further college athletics.