Kentucky Basketball: Rick Bozich and the Williams-Calipari Comparison

Players first, baby!

Thanks to Mrs. Tyler Thompson at KSR, who has brought to our attention this most recent article from Rick Bozich, who now seems to be lobbying hard for ESPN to swoop down and get him to replace the now-departed-to-Yahoo Pat Forde by writing articles obliquely critical of John Calipari and Kentucky at every available opportunity.

Here's an excerpt from his latest missive:

You can decide if Williams’ persistent pounding of the backboard for college basketball is better than the philosophy preached by other top-10 coaches. Refreshing is the word I use.


"Wayne Ellington (a starter on UNC’s 2009 NCAA champs) was in my office the other day and said, ‘Coach, I used to not believe you.’ He said, ‘If there was a way to play college basketball the rest of your life and still be able to live and have a family, I’d be right there.’ "

I’ll pause now while you howl. These will be your charges: Easy for Williams to say. His millions are guaranteed. Being a players-first program these days means pushing guys out the door and into their fortunes. There’s always another high school All-American looking to be next, correct? [my emphasis]

Heh.  Yeah, Rick, we get it.  But do you?

Bozich could be forgiven, perhaps, for not reading the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business' conference about the early-entry athlete entitled Turning Pro Young,  which examines, among other things, the financial impact of delaying entry into professional sports.  This conference summary was done back in 2005. but rings even more true today:

Faced with earnings restrictions, players wanted to enter the league early to extend their careers, [University of North Carolina Greensboro economist Dan] Rosenbaum says. Doing that lengthened the portion of their basketball career not covered by the [salary] caps. Rosenbaum estimates that a likely star sacrifices $70 million to $80 million (in present dollars) if he goes to college and stays for four years. Even an average player can lose as much as $20 million.

I note the delicious irony of a UNC-affiliated economist making this point.

What he is saying is that players like Tyler Hansbrough cost themselves millions by staying.  Of course, one million, judiciously invested and nurtured, is enough for most people to live comfortably, so perhaps he doesn't need that $20 mil he gave up to play four year for Roy.  Hansbrough's family is also well off, so what's a few million here and there?   Maybe an NCAA title is worth that much money to him. I'm sure Ol' Roy would tell you it was.

Calipari, on the other hand, prefers his players to take the money when they are ready and the NBA is ready.  You could rationally deduce from this that Coach Cal does not think an NCAA championship is worth that much of a sacrifice from players, and he calls that putting the players first.  I'm thinking John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins would agree with Calipari that a championship is not worth tens of millions.

But what gets me is that Bozich thinks Williams has the superior moral position.  What do you think?  Is it morally superior to convince players to sacrifice earnings to play at your program longer for a chance at amateur glory, or to turn pro as soon as you and the league are ready?

Vote below, and comment away.

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