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John Feinstein talks about 'Foul Trouble'

8:58 AM, Dec 27, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - Bestselling sportswriter John Feinstein is back. "Foul Trouble" is the latest in a series of sports-themed novels aimed at young adult readers.

In this one, he takes on the world of college basketball recruiting, a world Feinstein believes has made a joke of student athletes because of big money and shady deal-making.

Foul Trouble Synopsis

Terrell Jamerson is the #1 high school basketball player in the country. His team is poised to win State, top colleges are lining up to give him scholarships, and everyone says he could play in the NBA tomorrow. But it only takes one false step to lose everything.

Danny Wilcox is Terrell's best friend and teammate, and a top prospect himself, but these days it seems like everyone wants to get close to Terrell: the sneaker guys, the money managers, the college boosters. They show up offering fast cars, hot girls, and cold, hard cash. They say they just want to help, but their kind of help could get Terrell disqualified.

Danny and Terrell better keep their eyes on the ball if they hope to last the season.

John Feinstein Official Facebook Page 

Feinstein Blog On College Athletes

I saw a headline on that said - almost routinely - that Adidas is prepared to offer Andrew Wiggins $180 million the minute he announces this spring that he is leaving Kansas after one season as a college basketball player.
Memo to Mark Emmert: You still pushing the notion of these kids being "amateurs," and/or "students?"

Let's be honest. Wiggins, like a number of other freshmen this season and every season is passing through college for one year because the rules require that he do so.

The shoe companies are completely above any kind of NCAA law because the NCAA has no desire to police them in any way since they are big-money corporate sponsors the same way the TV networks are big-money corporate sponsors. They pay coaches and schools millions; they buy millions of dollars in TV advertising every year during both the regular season and postseason and they rule summer basketball - for both better and worse.

So, if three shoe companies want to let it be known that they will pay Andrew Wiggins hundreds of millions of dollars the second he turns pro, no one is going to say anything about it.
Of course Wiggins is already a pro. So are the freshman at Kentucky and so is Jabari Parker, the Duke freshman, who ranked only behind Wiggins on most people's all-star lists last season. Not that they're being paid RIGHT NOW; their money is being deferred at the present time. Of course the NCAA and the schools they play for will try to allege that they are 'student-athletes.'

The Adidas offer of $180 million as an opening bid for Wiggins BEFORE he's played a college team is just more proof of how fraudulent the entire notion of amateurism has become. The top players are already treated like kings before they get anywhere near college. James's entourage/posse isn't something that started when he turned pro, it was there when I first saw him at that summer camp in New Jersey 12 summers ago. And he's hardly unique. In fact, he's the norm.

And yet those of us who cover the NCAA Tournament will be forced to endure drones posing as MC's at press conferences insisting on using the 'student-athlete,' euphemism repeatedly because that's what the NCAA-created handbook tells them they must do.

When the one-and-done rule first came into existence in 2007 I thought it was a good idea, if only because I believed that a kid would benefit from even one year in college as opposed to turning pro straight out of high school. Turns out I was wrong-because they aren't really going to college.

They're playing basketball with the name of a college on the front of their uniform. They don't want to be there; they aren't going to bother with classes at all after first semester and, as Bob Knight correctly pointed out back then, it makes a complete mockery out of any notion that they're students.

There will be a good deal of mockery in the notion of big-time athletes as students regardless of the rules but simply housing NBA players for a year while sneaker companies talk openly about how much they're going to be paid, is a waste of time. The NBA and the player's union need to re-open the CBA on JUST this issue and re-write it with the same wording as the current baseball rule: You want to turn pro out of high school, you can. But if you opt for college, either because you don't get drafted high enough (or at all) and don't want to perhaps play minor league basketball, you can't be drafted again for three years.

That may not change graduation rates a lot - which are often bogus anyway - but if a player has to stay for three years there's a reasonable chance he'll at least show up for and maybe even pass a few courses - if only to stay eligible.

And maybe - just maybe - we won't start hearing about how much sneaker companies are going to pay a so-called, "student-athlete," BEFORE he puts on a college uniform.
Now that I have written on this subject, I need a shower. I just hope my wife has restocked the soap supply.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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