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Slive criticizes one-and-done rule, union efforts

By Daniel Paulling dpaulling@paducahsun.com

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - University of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari is in the midst of a remarkable five-year run that includes three Final Fours and a national championship.

His success can be attributed in part to an NBA rule, implemented in 2006, that requires draft picks to be one year removed from high school and at least 19 years old. Calipari has built his teams since then around top freshmen who need to play one year before going to the NBA.

On Tuesday, Julius Randle became the 12th such Wildcat under Calipari to leave for the NBA.

Many people have criticized the rule, including SEC commissioner Mike Slive, who spoke to reporters Monday during a nearly hour-long meeting with reporters at the Associated Press Sports Editors southeast region meeting at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

Here's what Slive said about the one-and-done rule and other issues impacting the SEC.

What are your thoughts on the one-and-done rule?

It's a bad rule. You know why it's a bad rule? Because academically it's a bad rule. Because when a young man leaves after one year, his chances are statistically lower that he's going to come back and get a degree. If he stays two or three years, he's probably going to come back.

It's not the NCAA's rule. It's not the SEC's rule. It's the NBA's rule and the NBA Players Association's rule. If they wanted to change the rule, we'd be delighted that our kids would be staying longer. Right now, I'd take anything. What I'd like to see is a rule that provides a young man with an opportunity to compete and get a degree or get close to a degree.

What effect can Bruce Pearl have on SEC basketball in terms of perception and performance?

We'll see, especially on the second part. Bruce is an energetic guy who brings a lot of enthusiasm. There's a lot of excitement that he's back in the league, particular by the folks at Auburn. We'll see how he performs.

He and I have had our moments, as you're aware. We've cleared the air. Bruce has faced up to the mistakes he made, publicly. Assuming he does what he says he's going to do then we're ready to move ahead.

What do you make of the recent series of African-American basketball coaches leaving the SEC in arguably lateral moves? (Cuonzo Martin left Tennessee for Cal and Frank Haith left Missouri for Tulsa this month.)

When Sylvester (Croom) was hired by Mississippi State, it was a big story. A huge story. The best thing in the world is we've hired a whole lot of wonderful minority coaches since then and guess what? It's never a story. That's the story.

(Diversity) is something that I've always been proud of and something that I felt we had to do if we were going to be in the kind of league that we wanted to be. We can only be great if there are opportunities for everybody.

What are your thoughts on the Northwestern football players' efforts to unionize?

I don't believe student-athletes should be employees. If you put the union issue aside and look at the substance of what's being asked for, you will see that in part, maybe in great part, that what's being asked for are the same kind of things that the 65 institutions (in the five power conferences) put forth in the vision as early as last fall. I prefer to think about what's the substance of issue rather than the nature of it.

There is an element of frustration when I say to you that we started this last summer. It's not unfair to say that to turn the NCAA is not unlike turning an aircraft carrier from north to south. It's taken time. These are things that we believed in and wanted to get on the table much earlier than we have been able to.

Call Daniel Paulling, a Sun sports writer, at 270-575-8662, or follow on Twitter @DanielPaulling.

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