Sometime this week, Patrick Patterson will face th..."/> Sometime this week, Patrick Patterson will face th..."/>

Is the NCAA rule unfair to Patrick Patterson?


by Paul Jordan

Sometime this week, Patrick Patterson will face the microphones and press in Lexington and announce his decision as to whether he will enter the NBA Draft. Patrick knows the drill. Last year, he made the choice to enter the NBA Draft, and after some evaluation returned to Kentucky for his Junior season. This time, if he declares for the NBA Draft, the NCAA rules say thee is no returning for his senior season. You can only test the waters and return one time. The second time you swim in the NBA pool, you are fully immersed.

Is this rule a fair rule? Some say it is not. The Chattanooga Times Free Press’s Mark Weidmer considers these policy to be “all wrong” and in the process has some very nice things to say about our very own Patrick Patterson:

A past member of the Southeastern Conference’s Good Works Team — which recognizes athletes who give back to their community — Patterson not is only an All-SEC performer on the court, but a wonderful role model off it.

And given the questionable rep that has overtaken much of college basketball the past few seasons before last week’s remarkable NCAA tourney final between choir boys Duke and Butler, you’d think the NCAA would be doing everything possible to keep quality young men like Patterson around as long as possible.

But alas the rule does not. And Weidmer calls the NCAA hypocritical (gee have we ever heard that before) and compares the process of a player entering the draft with that of any other student going to a job fair:

But that doesn’t change the fact that any underclassman who hasn’t accepted money or gifts from agents or professional teams should be allowed to stay in school until his four years of eligibility are up.

Does a university allow its non-athlete students to attend job fairs only once, demanding that they leave school if they inquire about career employment opportunities after both their sophomore and junior years?

No way. So why this? These players aren’t necessarily turning pro. They’re trying to find out if they’re ready to turn pro. These are million-dollar decisions these athletes are making. If they need more than one year to decide, so be it.

Weidmer makes a good point, and he has been one of a very few writers I have seen challenge the NCAA on this rule. I understand if there were no restrictions, about 200 players would probably declare for the draft every year … but maybe seeing that many players competing for 30 first round spots will have more players realize what a crapshoot the NBA draft is and have them focus on their studies more.

Fortunately, Patrick Patterson will be OK no matter what he decides. IF he returns to UK, UK will automatically become a top 10 team again and the buzz for title number 8 will commence. If he chooses the NBA, he will likely be a lottery of mid first round pick and have a guaranteed NBA contract. Plus Patterson is ready for live after the NBA with a college degree already.

No matter what path Patrick decides, we certainly wish him the best.

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