Calipari's entire team to declare for NBA Draft. Should football rules change?

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday March 23, 2016

John Calipari’s entire Kentucky basketball team has declared for the NBA Draft. Even the walk-ons!

But hold on a minute. New NCAA basketball rules allow players to attend NBA workouts and the Combine but still return to school if they don’t hire an agent. The deadline to withdraw is now 10 days after the NBA Combine in May. The previous deadline was in early April. Should football adopt a similar approach? Could it?

"Met with our team today. Told them that during the season it’s about the team and sacrificing for each other – which they did this year,” Calipari said in a series of tweets. “When the season’s over, it’s about each individual player and what’s right for them and their families.

“With that being said, every player who is eligible for the draft, including our walk-ons, will submit their names for the NBA Draft in hopes of being invited to the combine in May. The new rule states they can submit their name a total of three times. If they choose to withdraw, they have until 10 days after the combine. It's a true win-win for the student-athlete.”

Calipari is right. What do his players have to lose? It’s only beneficial for them. They can get feedback from NBA teams and learn what they need to improve upon — even the walk-ons with no chance of playing professionally.

Is there a chance a player could be influenced to leave during this process? Sure, but it’s nothing Calipari hasn’t dealt with before, annually losing several players early to the draft, and he's said before he'd rather have players get drafted than win a national title. Could this result in a flooding of other players doing the same thing? Maybe. This stunt is also another publicity opportunity for Calipari and Kentucky.

There has been criticism of the football process. The deadline for players to declare is in mid-January. Players can apply for feedback from NFL teams, but it’s well before any team workouts or the Combine. Nick Saban said last year that the feedback process caused some distractions for his Alabama team before the Playoff loss to Ohio State.

If you push back the football declare deadline by a few months, that takes you into spring practice. Basketball doesn’t have that on such a scale. Football rosters are much larger, but only players three years removed from high school can actually declare for the NFL, so a team would only be absent some rising seniors and possible some rising juniors. It would also give players a more accurate projection of their professional hopes. 

The basketball rule was certainly going to result in more players testing the waters. It was meant for players on the bubble. I doubt they foresaw an entire team declaring for the draft, but here we are. 

Could something like this rule change happen in football? Should it? Every year, a record number of football juniors are leaving early, and there are only so many draft slots and roster spots available.

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to