Post-Pitino Scandal: Sports Illustrated Writer Wants to Lower the NBA Minimum Age

The Barometer always enjoys it when the experts offer their solutions, post-scandal. To fix the too-big-to-fail problem, we passed legislation that has resulted in even bigger banks. To punish auditors for their complicity in Enron, WorldCom, etc., we doubled down on audit requirements, for the financials AND a separate auditor for internal controls. The result was, of course, even more work for auditors, the very folks we determined messed things up in the first place.

Now comes a Sports Illustrated writer with a way to prevent basketball’s black market (shoe companies now alleged to have funneled cash to recruits’ families): Let agents sign and recruit high school seniors. Brilliant! That will stop the payments, eh?

The premise of Jeremy Woo’s argument (“The Case for Lowering the NBA Minimum Wage”) is the “failure to pay . . . student-athletes what they are worth.” Sports illustrated, October 18, 2017, p. 24. Let’s think about that for just a minute. There was a time when we understood that a free ride for a degree was a pretty good deal. Ask any of the graduates struggling to repay what they borrowed for an education and you would get an earful on what a degree is worth. Then take a look at the stats on the lifetime earnings of college graduate vs. high school graduate, earnings that are not at risk of an ACL injury.

Then, let’s think about the wisdom of signing an 18-year-old to a multi-million contract. Thomas Sowell once said that he was grateful that he had no real financial success until he was 50 because he had the wisdom to understand what to do with the money and the humility to accept it without pride or flash. Surely the adults can see the ethical obligation to offer some guardrails from the follies of youth and some advice on education and skills that are not subject to the high risks of a sport and the treachery of too much cash too quickly. Ironically, the FBI has had to step in as the adult because of the failures of coaches, colleges and universities, and the shoe folks to play by the rules already in place.

College basketball issues are not the result of too little cash. They are the result of misplaced values. The adults used to know that, including the parents of the players.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD.

The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards.

Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader’s Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio.

She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News.

In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles.

Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.

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