Expert opinions are all over the map on what we are about to discuss here, so there really are no right or wrong answers in this scenario, but let us envision what an NBA lockout could mean for the game which is more important anyway, College Basketball.
We have several points which COULD come up in a collective bargaining agreement discussion between the NBA and the NBAPA which could have a major impact on the continuing of the NCAA as we now know it. They could also do things which would in effect render the NCAA an impotent entity which can only function as a shell of what it once was. Will these things happen? Let us peruse the possibilities.
We already know that while the "One-and-Done" collegiate player has become a hot topic for the NCAA and it's member institutions, it is not the only point of discussion that could have a big impact on the college game. The new head of the NCAA Mark Emmert has gone on record saying he wants to meet with David Stern and ultimately the NBAPA as well in an attempt to right a wrong ( in his eyes and the eyes of many others) which exists in their CBA concerning young potential NBA players and their age limit to enter the professional game. This has been a boon of sorts for both the NBA and the NBAPA because it has made college basketball a babysitting service for young players, who would otherwise be entering into the draft and free agency in much more frequent numbers. And college basketball has also benefited from seeing the services of these young athletes in the game, even if it is only for a short while. The problem exists in the fact that this situation is creating an unlevel playing field for college basketball. Big name schools with big name coaches, big TV contracts and lots of exposure are getting these kids services so that they may showcase their talents for all the world to see before the draft approaches. Schools who do not have these things are left out in the cold, so to speak, and looking for their share of this amazing pool of talent. The players get national TV exposure, name brand recognition, and a place in the hearts and minds of some very large fan bases which they carry to the NBA with them. However they must at least attempt to make efforts towards schoolwork and the college experience while they are here. Some, such as John Wall are very successful at this, while some others struggle even to maintain a decent GPA, and probably never should have made the NCAA a part of their lives, but do solely because of the NBA age rule. Now this is not a commentary on the worthwhile attributes of college life and the experiences it brings, because that is an altogether different matter. I believe that everyone, no matter how little success they see in the classroom can benefit from attending college. This may seem silly, and no I am not pointing out learning all of the different apparatuses one can use to fashion a beer bong, but that maturing is a process we all have to learn, and college is a wonderful place to do that very thing. Learning a sense of responsibility is a major step in a young person's life, and short of a stint in the military, you will get no more sobering experience than the first time that mom doesn't knock on your bedroom door to wake you for your 8am class and you hit the snooze button one too many times.
All of that aside, some kids do not need the college experience to prepare them for life in the real world. I know some 18 yr olds who are much more mature than some of their 30 yr old counterparts, and vice versa. So we know that there are benefits from going, but a necessity it is not.
Other points of interest in this agreement which can have a major impact on the NCAA will be the idea of reduced salaries for rookies, which could make staying in the college game an easier decision for the athletes as well. Everyone knows this is a money game for both the NCAA and the NBA. The NBA at this point does not want to see the NCAA step in and make its own guidelines in an attempt to stem the tide by invoking a rule used in baseball or football because that would then put these young men out of their reach for a longer period of time, and they like the revenues these kids bring in. No matter what rules are adopted by either party, there will be changes coming to force this situation to a head. The NCAA seems to be unwilling to legislate themselves because they cannot see past the dollar signs floating in the air overhead, and the NBA and the NBAPA want their piece of the pie as well. Could the lockout really fix all of this? Only if the parties involved decide to put their checkbooks away in favor of tradition and preserving the sport, and we already know that is not going to happen. But what it could do is bring all of the interested parties together for one last attempt at keeping some semblance of what the sport was intended to be, and get them all to look each other in the eye and ask themselves a simple question. Is college basketball important enough to us to preserve it's future? It doesn't have to happen, it doesn't even make money sense for the people who are talking to discuss it, but that doesn't mean they can't do the right thing and try to come to some sort of an understanding that lets everyone win. The NCAA could render all of this moot by making a stand, but they will not do that unless there is no other possible way. Let us hope that someone smarter than anyone in the past will step up and find a solution. I want to continue to be a college basketball fan, and unlike the 3 point shot which changed the game forever, this could potentially destroy the game altogether. I love college basketball, and I want it to be around when my grand kids are in town to laugh at the old fat guy in the recliner talk about the good old days when John Wall was still not yet a 15 time all star. Because I saw him when he was so fast the camera couldn't keep up with him.
Should the NBA and the NBAPA do nothing, and the NCAA be left to it's own designs, we are likely to see a three year rule develop which will rob the college game of some potentially great kids. Of course that could happen as a result of what happens in the pros as well, but had a three year rule existed now, we would have almost surely been robbed of seeing the Wildcats we saw this year. And that would have been a real shame. Kentucky is not alone in this dilemma by any means, and although Coach Cal seems to be a master of maneuvering his teams in whatever direction the game moves, it really concerns me that my game of college basketball, and my beloved Wildcats are struggling with this. It is bad enough that we are despised for things we are actually responsible for, much less the things we didn't even start.