So maybe you’ve heard, there have recently been some developments in college basketball. The NCAA has decided to allow high school and college athletes to hire agents. They’ve also extended the opportunity for players to return to school should they go undrafted. Yep, it definitely seems like they’re finally trying to do right by these kids. If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’m tryna sell you………….
Man if this isn’t one of the biggest slaps in the face I’ve ever seen. They’re doing everything in their power not to just pay these people. Sure, on the surface it seems as if these are measures to try to improve the situation of collegiate athletes (well not to anyone who’s paying attention) but in actuality this is just a rouse. First about this agent thing. Let’s start with the obvious, agents cost money. Money kids don’t have and money they won’t be able to earn when they’re in school due to NCAA regulations. Also, the agents will be able to provide meals and transportation for players and their families during visits to any pro teams and during the selection process. So basically we’re starting them off in debt before they have a chance to have a career. On top of that, the agents have to be certified by the NCAA. So you’re telling me the guys who’ve been stiffing the athletes for years get to exclusively screen the guys who will be handling them moving forward? I’m sure they’ll have their best interest at heart (sarcasm). Why do I get the image of Oliver Twist standing there with his bowl of gruel saying “Please sir, I want some more” and the headmaster responding with his indignant “WHAT?!!???!??”.
Now this “you can come back if you don’t get drafted” thing. First of all, it’s not extended to every player. Only underclassmen who’ve been invited to the combine would be eligible to come back to school. So if we’re going by that criteria this modification would’ve been helpful to about 6 guys last year. I find this stipulation really comical since I’m sure they know it’s rare that an underclassmen that’s invited to the combine would go undrafted. Also, I feel like any player in that position would only hurt their stock. If you go that far through the process and don’t get drafted, you’re stigmatized. No matter what, you’re going to be labeled as “wasn’t good enough to make the league.” Then when the new crop of talent comes in you’re forgotten. I’m waiting for someone to explain to me how any of these changes is going to help the players.
Now the one change that needs to be talked about that hasn’t even been sniffed at yet: WHEN ARE THESE GUYS GOING TO GET PAID???!!!??? The NCAA generated a little more than $1 billion in revenue last year. How much of that did the players get? Something has to be done about this. Last week some UNC football players got suspended for selling pairs of school issued sneakers. Are you kidding me? These universities profit tremendously from these young men and do everything in their power not to divide the pie. I get it. Cutting the players in means lighter pockets for coaches, schools, staff and other personnel. Now I’m no rocket surgeon but by my calculations $1 billion can be split healthily between A LOT of people. I want to hear an explanation as to why these athletes can’t be compensated. “But they’re not professionals.” Ok cool. You don’t want to pay them for playing sports. Got it. Well they still generate revenue. How about EA Sports and 2K put those games back on the shelves and comes back with a number. College bookstores, Nike, Adidas, UA, Reebok and whoever else sells anything with the kids’ likeness on it tallies up those profits and cut some checks. Since they are “amateurs” you can always adopt an Olympic model to let them enjoy the fruits of their labor in some capacity. It’s ridiculous that profit sharing is not only non-existent but actively avoided. These kids aren’t faceless commodities. But they are viewed that way. Hell, I wouldn’t split pork belly profits with pigs or beef sales with cattle.
Another thing that makes all of this reek of trickery and deceit, both the NBA and USAB have come forth and said they had no idea of these changes and weren’t consulted in any way. That’s strange given that these “elite” players who will be allowed to hire agents were going to be evaluated and ranked by USA Basketball. Weird. I think this is the NCAA playing both sides against the middle. If the other two entities don’t agree to these changes the response can always be, “Hey we made an effort to make things better. It’s these other guys that don’t want to cooperate. We tried.” Of course you did. But I’ll tell you one thing, I think all three of these establishments need to work together to come up with a viable solution to these issues. Mistreatment, unfair practices and underhandedness have been the breeding ground for the corruption and back door dealings that have become commonplace in college basketball.
All in all, these changes are nothing but a masquerade. It’s just more of the same. If they continue, a post high school option like Lavar Ball’s JBA might look more attractive than the indentured servitude of the NCAA. I’m honestly surprised we haven’t seen more players venture overseas and forego a collegiate career like Brandon Jennings and Emmanuel Mudiay. But the issue is unfortunately a lot of players and parents will take these new operating procedures at face value and truly believe that they are beneficial to the player. Anything besides splitting profits is an extremely one sided deal in favor of the universities. But many will buy in and then it’s too late. This will buy the NCAA more time and hold off the insurrection for a little while longer. They will continue to make every other option as unattractive as possible while they collect on the harvest that others planted. Hopefully one day this will no longer be the case.