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.

Five things to watch during Bulls’ training camp

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USA Today Sports Images

Five things to watch during Bulls’ training camp

All the new guys: Last October, the Bulls entered camp with essentially the same roster that lost to Cleveland in the second round of the 2015 playoffs, save for then-rookie Bobby Portis. This time, there’s no Derrick Rose, no Joakim Noah, no Pau Gasol, no Mike Dunleavy, and no E’Twaun Moore.

That’s four starters (essentially) whose performances or presence has been counted on in some way, even through some of the uncertainty that surrounded a few of these guys.

Conceivably, the Bulls can have around five new players in the actual rotation who weren’t thought of this time last year, although last year’s product left a lot to be desired.

The adjustment time and chemistry building starts Tuesday.

Who starts at power forward: All other positions in the first five are set, especially with the new faces. But the pivotal decision for Fred Hoiberg, if it hasn’t been made already, is who will start alongside Robin Lopez at center. It could be Nikola Mirotic, or Taj Gibson or even Bobby Portis, depending on Hoiberg’s sensibilities.

Smart money says it’ll probably be Mirotic considering he’s the best perimeter shooter of the three and actually a decent defensive rebounder. Gibson being a great screener, finisher and defender makes him intriguing as an option, but offensive space will be limited if he’s out there with Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. As for Portis, is he ready to take a step toward consistency in year 2?

The point guard: Rajon Rondo’s basketball intelligence is genius level, where he can master a gameplan and probably even devise one of his own that rivals his coaches. The man can counter a play before the opposing defense initiates an adjustment. That said, how will he and Hoiberg mesh this season? He clashed with Doc Rivers, had knock-down battles with Rick Carlisle in Dallas and George Karl didn’t have it in him to fight anybody in Sacramento, let alone Rondo.

Rondo likes playing the game at his speed, with his own feel and rhythm. Hoiberg will have to tailor his style for the new personnel he has, and luckily for him, isn’t a “my way or the highway” type of fellow that’s sure to rub Rondo the wrong way. Will Rondo embrace Hoiberg’s system and become an extension of the coach, or will Hoiberg give Rondo enough rope to explore Rondo’s intelligence to find a middle ground?

Will that even be enough?

The backup point guard: Just as intriguing as the starting power forward battle will be who backs up Rondo at point guard, although it’s likely that player won’t have to fill the traditional role of doing anything aside from walking the ball up and letting either Butler or Wade initiate the offense.

It’s likely Hoiberg will change his substitution patterns to have either Wade or Butler anchor second units in the second quarter, as a way to maximize the time he has with both while not having them invade each other’s space in the halfcourt. So who plays backup point could be more about who fits best next to the best player on the floor as opposed to who the best player is.

It seems to open the door for rookie Denzel Valentine since he can play three positions (although defense will be a task), along with Jerian Grant, Isaiah Canaan and Spencer Dinwiddie.

Grant was a first-rounder in 2015 who wants to show he’s worth that status, while Dinwiddie was projected as a lottery pick three years ago before tearing his ACL at Colorado.

It’s certainly not the most stressful decision Hoiberg will have to make, but a curious one.

Developing an identity: Does it happen in training camp? Who knows, but tones are often set as to what type of squad a team will be. Last season, Hoiberg believed he was building on a solid foundation after Tom Thibodeau’s defense first mentality, but signs of things crumbling began to show very early in the preseason.

This season, with so many new pieces, moving parts and overall uncertainty, there’s question as to what kind of team the Bulls will be. It’s intriguing, to say the least. But what will the Bulls hang their hats on come late October?

ESPN to broadcast Notre Dame-Syracuse, NC State kickoff still TBD

ESPN to broadcast Notre Dame-Syracuse, NC State kickoff still TBD

ESPN selected Notre Dame's road game at North Carolina State for a six-day option, meaning we won't know what time that contest will kick off until after Oct. 1's games. 

The other two ACC games selected as part of the six-day option are Virginia Tech at North Carolina and Florida State at Miami. Both FSU (No. 12) and Miami (No. 14) are ranked in the latest AP top 25, while Virginia Tech and North Carolina both received votes in the poll. Notre Dame and NC State did not receive any votes in this week's AP poll. 

Notre Dame's game against Syracuse at MetLife Stadium this Saturday will be broadcast by ESPN, the ACC also announced, and will kick off at noon E.T.