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Sports 101

While National Basketball Association executives try to hammer out a new labor agreement, plans are in motion for three new professional basketball leagues to begin play by November 1999. Here's the idea: Instead of relying on college ball to train players for the NBA, the National Rookie League, the International Basketball League, and the Collegiate Professional Basketball League will act as additional steppingstones to the NBA.

Q: Why start three new leagues?

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A: With the present setup, the NCAA is the primary organization that provides the NBA with players. Since many of the most talented high school players are academically ineligible for college play, or simply have no motivation to attend college, this offers them another chance to play ball and make the leap to the NBA.

Some players, such as Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, forgo college altogether and jump right to the NBA. This gives them more opportunity to hone their skills.

Q: Will players get paid?

A: Yes. Depending on the league, players will be paid about $20,000 (rookie league), low six figures (international), or $9,000 plus $5,000 signing bonus (collegiate professional). On the collegiate level (NCAA), players receive no pay. So the money factor may lure players away from college.

Q: How many teams will each league have?

A: Each league will start with as many as eight teams including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Detroit, and Washington. But there are plans for expansion. Within the next five years, the International League will grow to include 20 cities throughout the world.

Q: Where does education fit into this?

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A: Players for the collegiate league would be required to attend an annual eight-week accelerated college program at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne; the International League will offer players money for college; and in the rookie league, each player will be compensated $7,500 annually to pay for college after playing.

Q: What is the projected attendance at the new leagues' games?

A: Between 3,000 and 4,000 per game for the first year.

Q: What are the anticipated ticket prices?

A: For the rookie league, $8; for the International League, $12 to $15; for the collegiate league, $10 for adults, $5 for children.

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