Why not make athletics a major?

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There may not be three more intelligent people that write about college basketball than Jay Bilas, John Gasaway, and John Infante. Their latest
discussion circles around the state of amateurism in today’s NCAA climate.

Gasaway and Bilas
have essentially argued the same point — that the collegiate athletics has changed, and that allowing college players to retain their
amateurism while dealing with an agent would be beneficial and, more importantly, fair to these players that generate such a massive volume
of revenue.

Infante, formerly of the By Law Blog, disagrees. His argument is absolutely worth the five minutes it takes to read it, but that is not the most interesting point he makes in the piece. This is: The rules could be updated to address this change by expressly allowing, even promoting two majors: sport performance and sport education (i.e.
coaching).

Such a move would reinforce the idea that college should prepare you for a professional career. It would acknowledge the idea that professional athletics is a viable career, even if only for a minuscule portion of the student-athlete population. The relatively small number of graduates making a living as full-time artists, musicians, or philosophers has not killed off those majors.

It would also promote the idea that the study of athletic performance is a meaningful academic endeavor, just as the study of musical or artistic
performance is. That would open an avenue for increased study of issues like concussions and overtraining. And it would provide a new source of
professionally trained coaches, particularly needed as specialization, injuries, and money continue to grow at the youth level.

Infante nails it. I’ve been making this point for quite a while now.

There is a lot of money to be made in the world of sports, whether it is as a player, a coach, a trainer, a journalist, a broadcaster, a television producer, sports management, a front office executive, a ticket salesmen, a hot dog vendor, what have you. Like it or not, at this point sports truly are a profession; there are careers that
involve so much more than simply being the guy that can dunk a basketball or throw a football 50 yards on a line.

There is a reason they are called “professional” sports.

Different educational programs can be developed for the different caliber of player. Maybe as freshmen, these kids could be forced to take classes in money
management, contract law, and any other class that will help them avoid going broke five years after their career is over. Players can be trained in CPR and emergency medical treatment so that if a situation like the one involving Emmanuel Negedu or Herb Pope should arise without a trainer or doctor present, these kids are
prepared to save a life. Wouldn’t it be great if all the players-turned-coaches at the lower levels of basketball — the levels that can’t afford a ten-man training staff — were prepared should one of their athletes collapse? How big of a difference is there between training a person to recognize excellence in a piece of art and potential excellence in a particular player?

As Infante says, these days college is about getting you prepared for whatever career you want to pursue.

What is wrong with training these kids for a career in sports?

And what, exactly, is the difference between a career in sports and a career in acting? Or dance? Or art?

Aren’t those “real” majors?

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.

VIDEO: New Mexico loses game on blown call by officials

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Nothing like a nice, controversial finish to get the blood flowing.

New Mexico was on the receiving end of a rule misinterpretation on Saturday afternoon, and that interpretation likely cost the Lobos a win over San Diego State and, arguably, a shot at the MWC regular season title.

Here’s the situation: New Mexico is up by three with 12 seconds left and the ball under their own basket. Their allowed to run the baseline, so Craig Neal calls a play where the inbounder throws the ball to a player running out of bounds.

Totally league as long as the player establishes out of bounds before touching the ball. The referee rules that he doesn’t.

Here’s the video:

The problem?

According to the rules, Xavier Adams — the player receiving the pass from Cullen Neal — only needed one foot on the floor out of bounds in order to establish himself as an inbounder that was able to catch that ball. He got one foot down (see the picture above), but the referees appeared to rule that he needed to have both feet down.

That was incorrect, according to the Mountain West office.

“While this was a very close judgment call made at full speed, it has been determined after careful review of slow-motion video replays the call was in fact incorrect,” the league said in a release. “The New Mexico player did get one foot down (two feet are not required) out-of-bounds before receiving the ball, thus establishing his location in accordance NCAA Basketball Playing Rules 4.23.1.a and 7.1.1.  By rule, the officials were not permitted to go to the monitor during the game to review this play.”

And here’s the kicker: When SDSU got the ball back, they hit a three to send the game into overtime, where the Aztecs won. But if New Mexico had won this game, they’d be sitting at 8-2 in MWC play, one game behind SDSU in the loss column with a return game against them in The Pit.

Instead, they’re now three games back with seven to play, meaning that the race is effectively over.

It’s tough to blame the referees here — it was a bang-bang call that is only clear in slow-motion replay — but man, that’s a big call to miss.