Michigan Wolverines should bolt, get paid

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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DETROIT - And then there were two.

Tim Hardaway, Jr. did it on Wednesday.

Trey Burke did it this past Sunday.

Any day now, Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III could be the next Michigan Wolverines to forgo the rest of their college basketball careers and enter the NBA Draft.

If it happens, don't be mad at them. The players owe Michigan nothing. It's time to get paid.

Many -- mostly selfish, unrealistic fans -- will cry that the poor kids are making a mistake, that they should stay in school. This way they could both have a chance to win the national championship and, better yet, get their college degree.

Total nonsense.

First, most go to college with the idea it will help them land a good job.

Secondly, there is no job that will allow them to become millionaires overnight -- even with a degree.

Hence, when you have a chance to amass wealth legally, you do it.

That should be taught on campus. If not, Michigan should add it.

That's why McGary and Robinson III -- whose stock is higher than expected in a relatively weak draft -- should follow their teammates out the door and join Burke and Hardaway, Jr.

If you can get paid to play now instead of potentially later, it's a no-brainer. Only an educated fool would pass up that opportunity.

Plus, you can always go back to school. Many have done so, including Michael Jordan, who earned his degree from North Carolina.

For sure, Michigan fans are only thinking of themselves and their pleasure -- a chance for their school to be No.1 when the dust settles on March Madness.

And if all four Wolverines returned to Ann Arbor next season, Michigan would, indeed, have a great chance to win it all.

Still, there's no guarantee. Worse, a player's stock could go down with a bad season. There's the chance of even the unthinkable: a player could be injured and either derail their NBA dreams and kill them all together.

If you have done your research and due diligence and believe you have a legit shot to be either a lottery pick or at least earn a guaranteed contract by being selected in the first round, it's a logical decision.

That's clearly why Burke did the only thing he could do -- bolt college for the pros after leading Michigan on a magical ride to the NCAA title game.

Burke -- who averaged 18.6 points and was named college basketball player of the year --is going to be a lottery pick in the draft, according to just about all scouts and draft experts.

The 20-year-old point guard will eventually sign a multi-year, guaranteed contract for millions. He would have been crazy to come back for his junior year. He simply has nothing left to prove.

Plus, it's about time he gets paid for his ability and talent. Most college players are exploited and taken advantage of. It's the biggest dirty secret in this country.

It's an out and out crime that everyone in a college basketball arena is getting paid -- even the people selling popcorn -- except the players, the actual product.

In 2010, Louisville coach Rick Pitino earned $8.9 million on the backs of these kids. That same year, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski pulled in a whopping $7.2 million while his players can't even accept a free pizza or get a tattoo on the house.

Let's not even mention that three years ago, the NCAA agreed to a 14-year, $10.8 billion TV deal for the men's basketball tournament with CBS/Turner.

When that pie is divided, the players don't get a single dime.

And don't bring up a free education. It, in no way, equals the amount of money these players bring in with ticket sales, jerseys, TV rights and the such.  

It's unfair to ask players to play for free.

Sadly, most of the same people who point at players and call them dumb, would do the same exact them if they were presented with the opportunity of getting paid, well paid, to play ball and have a dream come true.

Burke and Hardaway, Jr. are smarter than fans. McGary and Robinson III should be smart, too.