So now all the talking heads will opine that if players were paid this wouldn’t happen; if the NCAA didn’t monopolize kids this wouldn’t happen; it’s not their fault, they just want a piece of the pie. Seriously? College athletes are provided an opportunity for free education and are typically afforded excellent tutors, meal plans and housing. Take a few minutes to look up some of the facilities the Power 5 basketball programs have built to make sure their players have the best of the best. In addition, since 2015 college athletes can get a $2000 or more stipend based on cost of tuition and that is on top of any PELL grants or other aid they might be getting. How much is enough? Do you really think if you paid them more that the cheating would stop?
The last time I checked, going to college is optional and basketball players can already turn pro to play overseas or in the G League right out of high school. So why do they choose college even if it’s just for a year? Because it’s a smart business decision for their future. Players know that in college they will not only be afforded all the amenities they need but they will benefit from growing their own personal brand with the help of a rabid school fan base and the power of the NCAA. Do millions of people tune in to watch the G League tournament on ESPN 7 every year? No, they tune in to cheer on their college team year after year despite who is on their roster. Some will argue that players helped build the NCAA brand and should be compensated accordingly. Should colleges get a cut of a players future earnings since they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on the best training, facilities, and marketing to help a player showcase and grow his talent?
Since college athletes are not allowed to work in season, I am absolutely in favor of the stipend college athletes are currently getting so they have some money for incidental expenses like gas or clothing. I do not believe paying players or allowing them to sign marketing deals is the right way to go forward. Instead let’s get rid of the rule that limits players from going straight to the NBA and let the market dictate a player’s decision. If a player decides he doesn’t want to be “exploited” by the NCAA then they can enter directly into the dog-eat-dog world of professional basketball. My bet is many will keep doing what they always have - go to college and benefit from getting an education while at the same time being given every tool and opportunity they need to grow their talent and marketability to make a living as a professional. Doesn’t that sound like what college is supposed to be about?