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The latest in NCAA bashing

Jul 6, 2012, 12:09 PM EDT

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On Thursday, our very own Dan Martin posted about a column that former Syracuse center Etan Thomas wrote on the website HoopsHype.com.

Essentially, Thomas said what every critic of the NCAA has been saying for years and years and years: “College athletics is nothing more than a corrupt system focused on exploitation and greed.”

He’s right, and while the column that he wrote isn’t exactly groundbreaking — it’s just more reinforcement about all of the things that are supremely screwed up about the way the current system functions — it is meaningful. Thomas is a college players that the majority of us remembering playing, but in college and in the league. This isn’t some nameless blogger or faceless writer; this is a guy that lived and breathed everything he is writing about.

That means something.

But, as Matt Norlander points out, it won’t mean anything in comparison to a current star coming out and railing against the NCAA:

Vocalizing discontent with the NCAA is something that’s hard to do when you’re a player. After all, without it, what would your college career look like? Would you even have one? The schools and athletic departments do their best to incubate every athlete’s mind and keep them as sterile as possible. (This leads to 90 percent of interviews turning into wastes of time for reporters.) The irony is with this. Say someone fairly well-known — I’ll just pick Ohio State’s Aaron Craft — next season started going after the NCAA. Criticizing it in a fair, measured manner.

You know what wouldn’t happen? Any sort of public backlash. If arguments made by Craft were rational, the only ones who would cringe at the public critiques would be those inside NCAA offices and the Ohio State athletic department, who’d be besieged with interview requests from starved reporters wanting more.

This would be annoying for only Ohio State and the NCAA, but the national conversation would benefit. There is so much improvement to be done, I can’t help but wonder if an active, nationally prominent basketball or football player isn’t the real eventual catalyst to sparking more tweaks to the system.

If it minor revolt does happen some time in the next seven or eight years, it will be guys Etan Thomas who inspire the youth to rise on up.

There is an important distinction to make here.

This conversation is only relevant to a select few athletes: The kids that play football and basketball (and in some cases baseball)at programs in BCS conferences; the kids that play at smaller schools with massive followings — Memphis, Xavier, Gonzaga, Creighton, etc., for hoops; some of the stars at the mid-major level (think Stephen Curry in 2008 or Isaiah Canaan next season). The sixth-man on Fordham is a much different story than the star at Syracuse.

Idealistically, the NCAA is truly a fantastic concept. Making it possible for an education to be paid for through sport gives an opportunity for a lot of kids that wouldn’t otherwise be able to continue their schooling to better their future and their family’s future. And for the majority of collegiate athletes.

The problem is that it has grown to big. Too much money is involved. With figures like $10.8 billion are getting thrown around — that’s how much the NCAA tournament is worth to CBS and Turner — than it simply becomes hypocritical to complain about a kid receiving $200 from an old friend that happens to be his AAU coach because his family needs to put food on the table.

We all know that a change needs to be made.

The odds of that happening will increase exponentially once current athletes start taking a stand.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

  1. bowwserr - Jul 6, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    I’m sorry but the grammar in this post makes it unreadable. You really need an editor. This is ridiculous.

  2. mrlaloosh - Jul 6, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    Yawn, u r an idiot.

  3. billobrienschindimple - Jul 6, 2012 at 8:33 PM

    @ bowwser

    I commented on the poor grammar as well as another error on this site a few months ago.

    The author told me I was correct on the error and that basically I didn’t know what I was talking about in regards to the spelling and grammar. The authors on this site have the same sense of entitlement that the athletes they cover have.

  4. opiedamus - Jul 7, 2012 at 1:09 AM

    A kid on an academic scholly can get a job w/no stipulations on earnings, hours, etc. In my opinion, the disconnect is that we hear of the extra benefits afforded to some athletes and the tinting of facts shrouded in the “he’s just a gal/guy playing a sport” mantra.

    There are exceptions, broken rules, and favors given in every walk of life. Unfortunately, we hear about this far more often then we hear of the kid that plays hoops, has a 3.8, and gives back to the community. The latter isn’t “news” worthy and deemed so by the folks that give us our information.

    I’m not exactly sure how you fix this problem. Due to the fact, when there is a lot of money being made, everyone else knows a better way to spend it. However, that doesn’t change the fact that to expect a 19 year old to wake up at 5am to start their day, that ends at 7pm, and not have any money to take someone on a date for pizza and, all the while, the school’s administration receives 6 figure salaries is inherently f’d up.

    How many AD’s are worth $500,000/year? How many Directors of Mktg are worth $100,000? How many Asst. AD’s are needed at one school? And how many coaches are actually worth $300,000?

    I have no problem with schools making money….it’s how it is spent that baffles my mind.

  5. irishdodger - Jul 7, 2012 at 12:30 PM

    The first problem that, IMO, never gets discussed is the fact that ALL universities have no problem raising their tuition every year w/ no regard to the economy, etc. this puts lower-to-middle class kids that rely on loans in deep debt by the time they graduate. If they choose a profession that isn’t upwardly mobile financially, the debt becomes a long-term burden. So let’s not pretend it’s just the athletes that are being taken advantage of….the athletes walk away w/ zero debt & a degree if they choose.

    For the athletes that are there to showcase their skills for the pros….they’re expecting to be treated like pros in an amateur environment. I do believe they should get the same benefits of what a full academic scholarship provides which I believe includes a stipend.

    For those that are entitled to the point that they still feel that’s not enough & they’re ready to get PAID, I suggest they explore the various professional football & basketball leagues available to them. The NFL isn’t realistic for a teenager, but they can compete in the other pro leagues just fine: the AFL, the CFL, the USFL (yes, it’s returning) & the Arena & Arena 2 leagues. Now they won’t make seven figures but they’ll have enough for tattoos & weed. For the hoops players, they have the USBL, Europe & I’m sure other minor pro leagues.

    The fact that amateurs don’t turn to these leagues shows the immeasurable value of the showcase for the pros that the NCAA provides. It’s their choice. Unfortunately, most Americans today are entitled & expect everything for free…housing, healthcare, unemployment benefits for life. A lot of these entitled athletes simply mirror a lot of America today.

  6. highlander24 - Jul 7, 2012 at 5:19 PM

    Guy in the picture looks like Manny Ramirez.

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