Are student athletes becoming a thing of the past?

753010.png

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.

White Sox manager Rick Renteria won't be fazed by rebuild

White Sox manager Rick Renteria won't be fazed by rebuild

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Rick Renteria knew a White Sox rebuild would be a possibility when he took over as manager and he’s not afraid of the challenges it presents.

Same as he told them in October, the new White Sox manager said on Day 3 of the Winter Meetings on Wednesday that he’s OK with whatever direction the team chooses to head. Given the events of the past two days, when the White Sox reigned in four elite prospects in pair of blockbuster deals for Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, Renteria has a pretty firm grasp of what’s to come.

Shortly after trading they traded Sale to the Boston Red Sox for four minor leaguers on Tuesday, the White Sox acquired three top pitching prospects from the Washington Nationals for Eaton on Wednesday. Despite what promises to be an inexperienced roster in 2017, Renteria plans to take the same open-minded approach into next season as he always has regardless of the makeup of the roster.

“We're obviously going to miss Chris,” Renteria said several hours before the Eaton deal was completed. “He was an integral part of our organization and our team. My only concern is obviously whatever players, what group of players I have, those are the ones I have to manage. So at this point, we have what we have right now and we'll see how it continues.”

When he hired him on Oct. 3, general manager Rick Hahn said he did so in part because the Renteria could handle a veteran roster equally as well as a youthful one. Hahn mentioned Tuesday that the entire major league coaching staff has been restructured with player development in mind, including the additions of third-base coach Nick Capra and bullpen coach Curt Hasler.

[SHOP: Get your White Sox gear right here]

Regardless of whether or not the team planned to compete next season, Renteria expected to at least work with some younger players. It’s the way of the world, promoting prospects to the majors with the idea it’s the final step in their development, Renteria said. Renteria didn’t sound as if he’s worried if he was inundated with prospects.

“There was talks of the possibility, but there was nothing set in stone at the time obviously,” Renteria said. “Younger players are filtering in a lot sooner than they used to in the past. You still have to continue to teach at the Major League level, and that's one thing that's evident throughout.”

Renteria said the key to players young or old is communication. Either way his approach would mostly be the same.

“Every human being is the sum total of all their experiences, so you've got to get to know people first, see what it is that motivates them, what kind of clicks with them to get them to act out on certain things that you might have them perform on a more consistent basis,” Renteria said. “I think that baseball has its own language. It's something that is indescribable at times. But working with the younger guys, I relish it. I look forward to it.

"But I also look forward to working with older veteran players, too. It's the same. My approach doesn't change a lot, other than you give people with experience their place.”

White Sox deal Adam Eaton to Nationals for Lucas Giolito, two others

White Sox deal Adam Eaton to Nationals for Lucas Giolito, two others

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The White Sox completed another blockbuster deal at the Winter Meetings on Wednesday night, sending Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals.

One day after they traded Chris Sale to Boston for four minor leaguers, including two elite prospects, the White Sox traded their outstanding leadoff man for three more top prospects, including pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez. Washington’s 2016 first-rounder Dane Dunning is also in the deal.

The Nationals’ top minor leaguer and MLB.com’s third-rated prospect in the game, Giolito was one of the main players included in a reported package for Sale only two days earlier. A first-round draft pick in 2012, the 22-year-old right-hander features an outstanding fastball-curveball combination.

Lopez is the No. 38 overall prospect in baseball and Dunning was selected with the 29 th pick in the June draft.

Giolito is the second top-5 prospect the White Sox have added in two days along with infielder Yoan Moncada, the 2016 minor league player of the year, who came over from Boston in the Sale trade. The White Sox also acquired right-hander Michael Kopech, the 30th overall prospect, in the Sale deal.