The NBA’s age limit has been a boon for the NCAA, with budding superstars such as Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant bringing their schools success on the court and exposure off it.

But as recent allegations of wrongdoing at Southern California and Memphis show, the “one-and-dones” also can leave schools vulnerable to the seedy side of the game. Where top players go, agents, boosters and other hangers-on who don’t care about the rules or the consequences of playing fast and loose with them often follow.

USC coach Tim Floyd resigned Tuesday following allegations that he gave $1,000 in cash to a man who helped steer Mayo to the Trojans. Memphis officials met with the NCAA last weekend to answer charges that a former player, believed to be Rose, had someone else take the SAT exam for him.

U.S. players aren’t eligible for the NBA until the year after their high school class graduates, a part of the 2005 collective bargaining agreement between the NBA and the union that had the full support of the NCAA.

By requiring players to spend a year in college, the developmental league or Europe, the NBA says it can better evaluate their talent and potential. The NCAA, meanwhile, believes any time spent in college is helpful.

“I’m not sure that any rule is going to be perfect because there are always going to be individuals that may determine they’re really not after a college degree when they go to college,” NCAA vice president Wally Renfro said.

“By and large, our position has been exposure to higher education is a good thing.”

But there are some players who are only interested in playing in the NBA and have the talent to do it straight out of high school. Four of the league’s last six MVPs skipped college, though Dirk Nowitzki came from Germany.

“You’re playing basketball all the time (in the NBA),” Dwight Howard, one of five starters in the NBA finals who bypassed college, said earlier this week. “You’re getting coached. You’re playing against the best of the best.

“You know, sometimes college is good for a lot of players. And others it’s not.”

Much of the opposition to the age limit stems from economics: Even a one-year wait can cost a player millions. There’s also the question of fairness. The NHL and Major League Baseball all draft players out of high school, and teenagers are a common sight in tennis, soccer and the Olympics.

But the investigations at USC and Memphis have led to questions about whether the age rule has consequences for schools, too. “It was kind of ostrich-like,” said Murray Sperber, a professor in the University of California’s graduate school of education and longtime critic of commercialization in college sports.

“They know historically the problems these one-and-done athletes can bring with them, and they didn’t think it through.”

Agents, boosters and other shadowy figures were a part of the game long before the age limit took effect. Villanova had to vacate its runner-up finish in the 1971 NCAA tournament because a player had signed a pro contract during the season. Minnesota’s appearance in the 1997 Final Four was wiped out by an academic scandal.

But because the LeBrons and Kobes must now take a detour on their way to the NBA, the recruiting battles to land blue-chippers have become that much more fierce. Memphis likely doesn’t play for the NCAA title without Rose. Ohio State probably wouldn’t have been a Final Four team without Oden and Mike Conley Jr.

Escalating salaries have turned up the pressure on coaches, too. Kentucky fired Billy Gillispie after he went 40-27 – a winning percentage of almost 60 percent – then threw $32 million at John Calipari.

Calipari, who coached Rose at Memphis, has been told by the NCAA he isn’t considered “at risk” in the probe.

With such pressure to win at all costs, however, allegations of NCAA violations shouldn’t be a surprise.

“There’s always been cheating because coaches at schools want to win games,” said Sonny Vaccaro, the longtime basketball promoter who was the first to negotiate lucrative sneaker deals for players and coaches.

“This isn’t unique to our times. Our schools and the people they employ are programmed to win or leave,” Vaccaro said. “But in the present day, the stakes are higher because the money is higher.”

Renfro is quick to point out that there isn’t a rash of scandals, and trouble doesn’t follow all “one-and-done” players. Oden, in fact, is back at Ohio State this summer, working out and taking classes.

But Michigan coach John Beilein, chairman of the NCAA’s new men’s basketball ethics coalition, acknowledges the scandals at Memphis and USC raise questions.

“What everyone refers to as the ‘one-and-done rule’ has had some unforeseen consequences and challenges that we have to re-examine,” Beilein said. “… One of the bigger issue we have is agents. They used to recruit players to represent, and now they’re recruiting kids to go to a particular school in the hopes of representing him when he goes pro. That’s a huge issue right now.”

But it is an NCAA issue. The NBA sees the age limit as a business matter, nothing more, nothing less.

“This is not about the NCAA, this is not an enforcement of some social program,” commissioner David Stern said recently. “This is a business decision by the NBA, which is we like to see our players in competition after high school.”

AP Sports Writer Larry Lage in Detroit and AP Writer Antonio Gonzalez in Orlando, Fla., contributed to this report.

AP-ES-06-12-09 2015EDT

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