Miller: 5th Year of Eligibility for MBB Players?

There is a proposal in the works that would allow Men's basketball players a fifth year of eligibility, in order to help improve graduation rates. Editor Jon Miller talks about this proposal, who it might help and how it could affect Iowa down the road.

It appears that the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the NCAA are on the same page with a very interesting proposal: a fifth year of eligibility for Men's Basketball players.

To familiarize yourself with this proposal, CLICK HERE.

It sounds to me as though this is going to take place, since NCAA President Miles Brand approves of it and has spent the last year looking into the issue.

The idea is to improve graduation rates in Men's basketball. The article says that it takes regular students 4.8 years, on average, to graduate from college.

I attended college for five years, as did many of my friends, with my final semester being an internship at a television station. So I can see that.

In all, I don't think this is a bad thing.

What I do think is a bad thing, is that the NCAA did not grant Jared Reiner his fifth year knowing this proposal was not only in the works, but would likely be approved.

I am not going to go into that anymore, because I have done so ad nauseum on this site and various radio shows around the state of Iowa in recent weeks.

But to the issue of a fifth year of eligibility…

Will this open a Pandora's box for other sports? I think the issue is specifically grad rates for men's basketball. Women's basketball grad rates are much better. One reason is that you don't see women's players leaving college early for the WNBA…yet.

With NCAA football, you have the NFL's requirement that players have to have finished their third year in college, or have to have been out of high school for three years before they are eligible for the draft. At least for now, as that rule is being challenged in the courts.

If this rule is put into place for Men's hoops, I agree with Brand when he said the following in the article linked above:

"It won't affect kids who leave before the fourth year because they'll leave anyway," Brand said. "But it well help in building parity and in most cases, the benefits will be in the mid-major programs."

There is no question that mid-majors are going to benefit from this, as will high-major programs that do not normally recruit very many NBA-quality players.

I think you can throw Iowa into that mix.

The question then comes down to what the kids feel about their own abilities.

Would Dean Oliver have stayed at Iowa another year, or would he have felt that he was going to get drafted and left after four years? (On a side note, had this rule been in place for the 2001-2002 season, and had Oliver stayed for that fifth year, Iowa might have lived up to its preseason Top 10 billing.)

If a kid is a borderline NBA prospect after his fourth year, I still think you will see a lot of them move on to the professional ranks, either in America or overseas. That is, until the NBA adopts an age restriction policy of their own.

With the influx of European players going in the draft and the trend for high school players going straight to the pros, staying around in college for a fifth year is not likely for players who have a chance at playing in the league. Then again, those chances are open to interpretation.

But this new rule would give so many student athletes who are concerned about getting their degree and having it paid for a chance to do just that. Reiner earned his degree in four years, something that is rare when you look at the time demands of Division 1 basketball players.

Let's say this rule is enacted, and all of the players on Iowa's roster get that extra year of eligibility if they want it.

Jeff Horner: He is probably a borderline NBA prospect, at best, and I could see him sticking around for a fifth year.
Greg Brunner: Definitely a fifth year candidate.
Erek Hansen: As of now, a fifth year candidate, but if he really improves on offense and rebounding the next two years, he could garner some NBA attention.
Pierre Pierce: He probably does not stick around five years, as someone will probably convince him that he will get drafted, jump shot or not.
Adam Haluska: Probably still too early to tell, but if he can develop a good three-point shot over the next two or three years, he has the body to play at the next level.
Doug Thomas: We need to see what he does at Iowa.

Mike Henderson is probably a five-year candidate, as is J.R. Angle. It remains to be seen regarding Alex Thompson, Seth Gorney and Carlton Reed.

Whether this new rule passes or not, Iowa COULD have the same 11 guys back for the 2005-2006 season. If it passes, they could theoretically have these 11 back for a third year.

If this rule does pass, it will throw a wrench into recruiting, too.

There will probably have to be a ‘declaration date' for the fifth year, but would it come early enough so that college coaches would know what their available scholarship situation would be like for recruiting classes down the road?

That ‘swing year' would really impact things there.

In all, it's an interesting concept full of question marks.

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