Terps' Williams: Let early entry players return to school

From staff reportsApril 21, 2010 

— Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams would like to see the NBA abolish the age limit rule that restricts players from going pro until they are 19, or one year removed from high school. In addition, he’d like to see the NCAA go one step further: allow players to return to school – even after hiring an agent – if their pro careers don’t pan out.

“Everyone makes mistakes, and you make a lot of ‘em when you’re young,’’ Williams said. “Say they did away with having to go one year to college, and you went straight to the pros and it turns out you’re not good enough. We’re supposed to be in the education business; why not allow that person to come back, and maybe have to sit out a year or something like that, but the still have your eligibility to play? I don’t see anything wrong with that … I don’t think anyone would be gaining an edge or anything like that.”

The issue came up during a Wednesday afternoon panel discussion dealing with the effect of the NBA’ age limit rule on the college game at the Issues in College Sport Symposium at the Friday Center. Also on the panel were former NBA star Darryl Dawkins, Vermont Law School profession Michael McCann, Associate ACC commissioner Shane Lyons, and Charlotte Observer/News & Observer reporter Ken Tysiac.

After the panel discussion, Williams said that even if the NBA’s one-year rule stays in place, allowing an athlete to return to the team and University if he doesn’t make it in the NBA could be a good thing for both the athlete and the school.

“They’d have to go back to the school they came from. … And the good thing about that would be, they’d be spurred to do well academically, so when they came back, they’d be in good academic shape; you don’t have to sit out until you get your grades up to a level where you can play,’’ he said. “… A guy who’s a one-and-done guy -- he knows if he doesn’t make it, he has the opportunity to come back, then [he’s] probably going to do well in school so when [he] does come back, [he] can play.”

Williams is also in favor of paying players stipends.

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