Al Harrington comes from a generation of players that went to the NBA straight out of high school. It was only when the league and the players union negotiated the new CBA in 2005 an age limit was introduced that made players go to college at least for a year.
Many consider this rule to be unfair and limiting the opportunities of young players. The biggest winner of this is the NCAA, as it increases the number of players in their league. The issue here is that the college players do not get paid for playing at all, while the NCAA rakes in over a billion dollars. Yep, that’s with a “B” – $1,000,000,000. Now, the NCAA insists that players are amateurs and receive a scholarship as a sort of compensation.
But, when you hear the classes, the players take it becomes clear they do not get any education and are often prevented even if they want to. They have to maintain a certain GPA to play, so the teams push them towards fake classes with easy grading. Often they can’t go to more demanding courses as they have a lot of obligations towards the team they play on. Even if they did go to all the classes, very often players come from poor communities and have to provide for their families. Something NCAA just ignores.
Al Harrington was always outspoken, and as he never attended college, he’s in a position to share a bit more details. In his appearance on “Fair Game” with Kristine Leahy he told his experience with the recruiting process:
The one school that made the best offer, it was a cash advance, it was a truck – Ford Explorer is what it wanted, and give my mom a job so she can come and live in the city where I was playing. … The biggest offer was $450,000.
Harrington said that he should’ve taken it and just went pro. It’s not like the school could sue him for anything.