For the 1% of people on this planet (and likely less) college, tech school, or learn a craft and perfecting it at a young age are necessary to have any chance in this life. But there are still stupid people out there that think they are the exception to the rule and are destined for greatness. For this purpose, let’s just discuss high school athletes and what really starts the whole issue with NCAA eligibility and why the 1-year rule for the NBA or even the 2-year rule for the NFL should be dropped. Forget about the amateurism aspect of college athletics and paying kids stipends for playing a sport and getting a free education. That’s a ludicrous complaint anyways. This biggest issue at hand is that adults are enabling young people and they are taking advantage of “the system”.
Diploma mill- a school (sometimes a trade or charter school but mostly preparatory institution) that essentially hands high school diplomas to students without accreditation.
These schools have given a bad name to the old guard of prep schools around the country that are more known for their academic reputation than for their star athletes. Don’t get me wrong, there are some of these elite schools that have very successful athletic programs. But diploma mills bring in athletes to take bogus/online classes and “raise SAT scores”/get core classes to qualify for college scholarships.
Many quality schools (mostly in the Northeast) have started basketball teams out of nowhere and still followed guidelines within the structure of normal student recruitment. It’s similar to what Harvard has been able to do in basketball or Stanford has done in football. You can still compete with the best if you have standards. But the diploma mills don’t have standards, they take anyone from anywhere. Lots of schools take kids without knowing how old they are or what previous schooling they’ve had. The NCAA has done a better job at cracking down on the fake schools, but somehow there are programs that have fallen through the cracks despite having national attention for a while.
In most cases these schools are opened, run, and coached by the same person. The money for the school is either given by private donors or put up by existing students. As stated before, not every school is a regular school. Some of these mills have a room or two in a warehouse and have just one teacher or proctor that watches them take classes online. Kids might not even play for the team when they go to said schools. They need grades, not always the shine that’s involved with playing against top-flight competition. The entire school may move to a different location with a different name from year to year with kids from all over the country and the world.
While this hasn’t been in the headlines for a few years, a few days ago top 5 college basketball recruit Emmanuel Mudiay decided that he needed to forgo his commitment to Larry Brown and the SMU Mustangs to take care of his mother. Mudiay is going to Europe or Asia to find a job. This hasn’t been done since the first time it ever happened with Brandon Jennings after he didn’t qualify to play at Arizona. Early reports are that Mudiay took improper benefits, while several media outlets are reporting that Deion Sanders’ charter school Prime Prep (where Mudiay played) is under investigation. Let’s just say that Andre Agassi has had a charter school in greater Las Vegas area for 10 years (or more, I really don’t feel like checking) and he hasn’t added any bogus athletic programs or made it about anything other than giving kids a chance at a great education.
So it seems a bit obvious that there is something wrong this picture. Either Emmanuel didn’t have the grades or qualifying scores or he took money before even thinking about college. His parents (who apparently are worried about money) are obviously worried about the important things so who knows what the deal is. Also, if there were any improper benefits taken, the minimum suspension at any major college or university is sitting out 30% of regular season games. So a kid that was likely to only play one year of college basketball (and that really just means going to class for one semester because the second is only a month or two of the season) wasn’t trying to only get to play 20 games or so before playing for money anyways. So it sort of makes sense for this kid given his options.
Still, Mudiay fucked over SMU. The Mustangs will have a good team either way. But now he must figure out where to go and what to do. Technically, Brandon Jennings wasn’t the only kid to jump from high school to Europe. Talented young big man Jeremy Tyler actually skipped his last year of high school to go play basketball in the pros. Tyler ended up having even more trouble adjusting and eventually came back to America to play in the D-League before getting some looks on the Golden State Warriors and the New York Knicks. Either way, Mudiay has a tough road ahead.
I actually went to a prep school that picked up a basketball team with national headline aspirations my last two years of high school. The board of directors wouldn’t allow our coach to seek more than a handful of players that needed full scholarships and thus the coach moved on after my last year. But the biggest issue with our team was that basketball essentially became bigger than the school and most prep schools have history that they don’t want to lose sight of. Even for some schools, the lure of having high level D-1 athletes and future professionals adding notoriety isn’t enough. But diploma mills will be around to take advantage of kids, their families, and the system for the foreseeable future.