Are student athletes becoming a thing of the past?

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Are student athletes becoming a thing of the past?

And with the first pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Oakland Raiders select 6-5 260 pound Robert Nkemdiche (the nations 1 ranked HS player in the Class of 2013), a defensive end from Grayson High School in Loganville, Georgia.

Although this isn't possible, the trend of NCAA superstars foregoing their final years of college eligibility is growing at a rapid rate and it's beginning to make me think that we are missing the point behind college athletics.

The NFL rulebook states that a player is eligible to enter the draft once they have been out of high school for three years, but no part of that rule states you must attend college in any capacity. In the 2007 NFL draft, there were 38 players who decided to fore go one or more year of collegiate eligibility and enter the draft early. With the exception of 2009, this number has risen every year, reaching an unprecedented 65 early entries this past draft. In the first round alone, 19 of the 32 picks had remaining NCAA eligibility, including 10 of the top 12. Obviously these players are physically ready to play in the NFL, but are they well enough prepared as individuals?

To no surprise, the term "student-athlete" is dying at the Division I level. With the exception of the few players like Robert Griffin III, the majority of players electing to enter the draft early have not finished their college degrees. But between lavish bowl game trips, television interviews, shopping for those glittery watches, attending the draft in New York, and practicing their handshakes with commissioner Goodell, where do they find time to write that sociology paper due Monday? The fact of the matter is the NFL has fully implemented its business-driven tendencies into the NCAA.

Many of these super-star athletes are also lured into an early departure from their universities by the big check waiting for them on the other side of the stage at Radio City Music Hall. While this may seem like the right choice for a player trying to preserve his health while furthering his success in the sport, it very well may not be. The National Football League Players Association reports that players with degrees make between 20 and 30 percent more money throughout their careers. On top of that, the college graduates last 50 percent longer than early entries in the league. So, for college standouts looking for their first big pay day, the cash-in-now approach may not be wisest in the long-term. Lets face it, these are 21 and 22 year-old men who are still maturing both physically and mentally.

Out of the 65 early entries this year, 20 young men were left to test the unforgiving waters of undrafted free agency. According to the NFLPA, even if they were selected, the average NFL career only lasts 3.3 years. So when the rug gets pulled out from under their feet, how many players actually decide to go back and finish their degree?

According to a recent US government study only 55 percent of all Division 1-A players graduate.

The NCAA must hold every athlete to a certain academic standard so that their futures off the field are secured by an education. Players, even superstars, need to be prepared for life after football, because as we have seen, it can be a scary experience when the days in uniform come to an end.
Joe Musso contributed to this article.

The ‘friendly rivalry’ between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman with Cubs, Dodgers becoming NL superpowers

The ‘friendly rivalry’ between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman with Cubs, Dodgers becoming NL superpowers

LOS ANGELES – A man stepped to the microphone during a Q&A session at Cubs Convention and called Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman “the two boy geniuses.” The fan told Epstein how his friends used to call the Dodgers baseball boss “your Mini-Me,” asking about their personal rivalry and if beating L.A. in the playoffs had any extra meaning.

“We have a friendly rivalry,” Epstein told a packed hotel ballroom in downtown Chicago in January. “First off, didn’t he interview for an internship with us and we turned him down way back in the day?

“And then like nine months later, he was GM of the Rays. When he was with Tampa and I was with Boston, we never spoke, because we were in the same division. It was kind of a heated rivalry. We literally never called each other on trades or anything like that.”

But where it’s so difficult for the small-market Rays to keep up with the ultra-rich Red Sox – and replace Friedman’s vision and Joe Maddon’s star power and survive a string of wasted first-round draft picks and find a long-term stadium solution – the Cubs and Dodgers are positioned to be superpowers for years to come.

That’s what makes this Memorial Day weekend showdown at Dodger Stadium so compelling beyond the National League Championship Series rematch. It’s not just upcoming free agent Jake Arrieta returning to the site of his onesie no-hitter on Friday night, a reigning MVP (Kris Bryant) and Rookie of the Year (Corey Seager), two of the best closers on the planet (Wade Davis and Kenley Jansen) and a classic Jon Lester vs. Clayton Kershaw matchup on Sunday afternoon.

The Cubs eliminated the Dodgers less than a month after Epstein finalized a five-year contract worth in the neighborhood of $50 million, likely surpassing Friedman as the game’s highest-paid personnel executive.

“Jed developed a pretty good relationship with him, because I didn’t like talking to him,” Epstein said, referencing GM Jed Hoyer, another Boston transplant on the Cubs Convention panel that day. “But then when I came out here with the Cubs, a different league and everything, I developed a much better relationship with Andrew and we became friends, so now it’s much more of a friendly rivalry.

“I will say that losing to the Dodgers would have been a bitter pill to swallow on a number of fronts, including that one. But they’re developing a powerhouse out there.

“We see them as a team we have to go through each year to get where we want to be.”

[MORE CUBS: Summing up the Cubs' impressive, potentially season-altering homestand]

Backed by Guggenheim Partners’ financial muscle and flush with new TV money, the Dodgers have won four straight division titles and 90-plus games each season while ramping up a farm system that’s now ranked fourth, fifth or sixth by Baseball America, ESPN and MLB.com.

“Everyone’s got their own style and their own approach,” Epstein said. “Ours was more kind of bottom-up (where) they needed to keep it rolling at a high level in the big leagues while retooling their system and nurturing the talent that was already there.

“We had to go out and transact and bring some stuff in. We were at different points of the success cycle. They’ve done a really nice job of winning while kind of establishing something new at the same time.”

The blue-blooded franchise that produced 17 Rookie of the Year winners last month rolled out Cody Bellinger, a 21-year-old, left-handed first baseman with nine homers in his first 28 games in The Show. Julio Urias – who might be the next Fernando Valenzuela – is supposed to be conserving some innings at Triple-A Oklahoma City for another October where the Cubs could be standing in the way of the Dodgers’ first World Series title since 1988.

“They’ve been producing great young talent for a long period of time,” Epstein said. “If you go back and look at some of the young studs they have in the big leagues that (former scouting director) Logan White and (the previous regime) brought in, some of the guys are still coming.

“They’re stocked and the Dodger tradition runs really deep. With Andrew and his front office, we know they’re going to be dynamic. They’re going to have more resources than anyone. And they’re a big threat to the whole league for a long period of time.”

Could Derrick Rose reunite with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

Could Derrick Rose reunite with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

Tom Thibodeau was without Derrick Rose for the first time in his head-coaching career last season, coaching the Timberwolves while Rose suited up for the New York Knicks.

But a reunion may be on the horizon. Rose is an unrestricted free agent and the Timberwolves, though they don't have a real need at point guard, are showing interest in the Chicago native. We'll have to wait until July 1, when free agency begins, to see what happens.

See what special guest Nick Friedell, Bulls beat reporter for ESPN, had to say about the topic on SportsTalk Live in the video above.