The aftermath of an FBI investigation into the NCAA has rocked the world of college basketball. Results of the findings were made public late last month. The most well-known of the casualties from the fallout was the effective firing of Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. In addition, assistant coaches from Oklahoma State, Auburn, Arizona and USC were charged with corruption along with Adidas global director of sports marketing James Gatto.
One of the most strangely honest moments to come following these revelations came from NBA hall of famer and TV personality Charles Barkley. When answering the question of who is to blame for the scandal, Barkley claimed:
“All of the above. Everybody’s got dirty hands in this whole thing. ESPN, which I love, the money they make on college basketball. Myself and CBS, what we make on March Madness. What the NCAA makes on all these sports. The shoe companies who funnel kids to certain schools, their hands are dirty. The kids who take the money, they don’t have to take that money. So there is nobody who has got clean hands in this whole scenario. It’s a dirty business.”
Barkley is certainly correct about the corruption that abounds in NCAA basketball. It very much is filled with these types of realities. He is absolutely right in calling these entities out. But one wonders why, when given this reality, he continues to harbor the other opinions he has regarding the game.
Barkley is on record saying he wants to require players coming into the NBA to have played two years minimum of college basketball before entering the draft. As it stands right now, the rule is only one year. But if this entity of college basketball is as dirty as Barley has realized that it is, why then should players be forcibly subjected to it for even more time? Doesn’t this increase the amount of “dirt” that these players (especially the elite, NBA ready players) will be involved in during their collegiate careers?
One solution that some have proposed in order to lessen the tendencies to pay student athletes under the table is to allow them to be paid. After all, doing this brings the money out into the open so that the actual business of college basketball can be more closely monitored. So is Barkley in favor of student athlete compensation as a solution? No, he isn’t. In 2015 he told USA Today:
“First of all, there’s not that many good college players. Less than one percent are going to play in the NBA. All of those kids are getting a free education. But let’s say we do it your way — we don’t pay all college players — we have to pay the diving team, the swimming team. That’s crazy.”
Of course, if people are willing to watch these players, why does it matter if they have the ability to reach the NBA? March Madness draws enormous ratings every year despite the very small percentage of its participants being able to make it to the professional level. It makes sense that the talent people are willing to watch should be compensated for the wealth they bring in. Being able to play in a completely different league should not be relevant.
Considering all of the money that is apparently flying around these programs, forcing players to stay there longer and continuing the attempt to prevent access to this money seems to be a fool’s errand. So Barkley seems to be fine with complaining about how dirty the college basketball system is. But he doesn’t want to change anything about why the system is so dirty in the first place. In fact, adding another year to the time a player must spend in this system only increases the exposure to the corruption that takes place. Let’s hope the recent scandals will at least cause him to start reconsidering some of these positions.