An astute reader made an excellent point over the NCAA's official blog about the unlikeliness of a top athlete to ever finish their degree thanks to the collective bargaining agreements signed by the NBA and NHL this past summer.
The article is well-written and brings up some good points. The NCAA's stance here seems to be that they can't stop kids from going pro, so all they can do is make sure they get all the education they can while they're in school. That's certainly a reasonable idea. I'm not sure what else the NCAA can do. A few years of college education is better than none at all, even if it doesn't result in a player getting a degree.
At the same time, I can't help but feel things could have been different for hockey. In hockey, it's not so much an issue of players choosing between one year or not going to college. It's about players staying in school all four years. There's already been a number of players that would have likely stayed for their senior season if it hadn't been for the NHL's new rules.
Obviously players are always going to be leaving early for the pros, but that doesn't mean that college hockey should have to lose players early that it doesn't have to lose. Just because the NCAA has shifted their focus from graduation rates to the academic progress rates doesn't mean they should ignore players graduating.
Overall, I think the NCAA is doing a pretty good job when it comes to academics, although I still think the situation with hockey is very disappointing. There's probably not too much the NCAA can do now, but I'd love to see work to get that NHL changed in the future so that more players can finish out their careers in college.