Friday, November 2, 2012


Opinion: ESPN analyst Bilas shows why NCAA should listen to his constructive criticism

ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas videotapes Kansas University fans before the Jayhawks take on Ohio State on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.

ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas videotapes Kansas University fans before the Jayhawks take on Ohio State on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse.


Every time ESPN analyst Jay Bilas opens his mouth, it’s easy to picture NCAA officials quaking like Don Knotts searching his shirt pocket for that moldy bullet and cringing like Larry David’s wife in “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”


Kansas coach Bill Self shares a laugh with members of the discussion panel during Bill Self's "Courtside View" roundtable discussion on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012, at Crown Toyota Pavilion. Other panel members included Jay Bilas, Mike DeCourcy, Fran Fraschilla and Blair Kerkhoff.

Better idea: Those same officials ought to lean forward in their chairs and hang on his every syllable. His criticism is constructive, and if the NCAA went to school on Bilas it could save itself from itself. As it is, the organization is on a collision course with extinction.

During Thursday night’s entertaining, informative, provocative evening of roundtable discussion for the benefit of Bill Self’s Assists Foundation at Crown Automotive, Bilas returned a few times to the message that the NCAA needs to become proactive in dealing with the NBA. Instead, image takes precedence, as evidenced by such things as the insistence on referring to basketball players as “student-athletes.” There is no such thing as a student-athlete, Bilas said.

“When they are in the classroom, they are students,” Bilas said. “And when they are on the court, they are athletes. And there is nothing wrong with that.”

Chimed in Self: “If they want them to be student-athletes, then treat them like students. No other kid at Sigma Chi has restrictions that athletes have.”

An English major, one of the panelists pointed out, can write a book and sell it. A basketball player can’t capitalize on his skills, which help universities to make millions. Bilas called such a double-standard “immoral.”

The most fascinating concept cited as an example of a way the NCAA could become more proactive with the NBA: Set up a system wherein a basketball player could be drafted by an NBA team and “parked” at the school he attends until the NBA decides he’s ready to join the roster. Guidelines easily could be set in place so that it wouldn’t disrupt the colleges. For example, within 24 hours of the completion of the NCAA Tournament, an NBA team that held the rights to a player could inform the college coach it either is calling him up for the next season, or extending the parking agreement for another year. He gets paid by the NBA franchise during the apprenticeship.

Take the case of Julian Wright. He could have been chosen as a lottery pick after his sophomore season, as he was, and played four seasons at Kansas, by which time he would have had a much more advanced game than he ever will develop. Now playing in Israel, Wright averaged 3.9 points per game in four NBA seasons and received the benefits of two years of a Kansas education, instead of four.

As the system stands now — Kansas receives $21 million for being a member of the Big 12, and athletes receive room, board, tuition, books, etc. — by attempting to legislate morality, which never works, the NCAA has enabled dual hypocrisies for both sides of the “student-athlete” responsibilities. Thanks to the rules, the school’s motivation becomes for the student not to learn, rather to stay on course toward graduation. Thanks to the one-and-done rule, the athlete’s goal is not to maximize his potential as a basketball player with a great career, rather to maximize earning potential.

If a school was left to educate all its students in the way it sees fit and the NBA could leave its young players in the best training ground as it sees fit, the education of athletes would be more productive and honest, the college game would have far more talent and more mature players and so would the NBA. The athletes, by staying in a college atmosphere longer, would become better educated for dealing with the complexities of life.

So by exploring and implementing just one proactive step, athletes would receive a better education, and the NCAA and NBA would deliver better products to the public.

Very important stuff was discussed at the roundtable, which with any luck will become an annual event that one day could an include a representative of the NCAA and/or a college president/chancellor.


d_prowess 9 years, 1 month ago

I enjoyed the event as well, but I am not sure about the idea that teams could draft players and have them then develop in college before being "called up." What incentive would the players have to truly listen to their coach or give the right amount of attention to their grades? Having already been drafted, if they flunk out, would a team not still put them on their team; especially if they spent a lottery pick on the kid anyway? Just seems like there could be a lot of downsides to that idea that would need to be worked out somehow.

jayhawks0034 9 years, 1 month ago

The NHL has a similar system in place with the NCAA and it seems to work well for them.

Vernon Riggs 9 years, 1 month ago

If a player can't follow the rules in College then why would the NBA want to 'call him up'. If he is a problem in college, he will be a problem in the NBA. Make it where the NBA can walk away from the player without much investment. NBA will like it they can draft 'potential' and then pay actual production.

Ben Kliewer 9 years, 1 month ago

I think MLB has a similar system set up with the NCAA as well.

dylans 9 years, 1 month ago

Nah, MLB just drafts everyone so no one feels pressure to come up. I'm pretty sure I got drafted, but I haven't played baseball since I was 12.

Martin Rosenblum 9 years, 1 month ago

I have posted at least two times on this subject on other threads. My concept of a developmental league that players would be part of while attending college is similar to Jay Bilas's proposal. Times have changed in professional sports and to ignore the most logical pool of future pro athletes is very short-sighted. I still contend that a joint venture between the NBA and NCAA would only serve to benefit both organizations. The awkward relationship that exists between these two bodies now is like that first boy-girl dance that everybody has experienced. Both parties know why they are there and what is best for them, but are just having trouble making the first move.

Hurinfan 9 years, 1 month ago

Unlike Bilas I think that amateurism is very important to college athletics. College players should not be able to make money off of their sports b/c if would give the school an unfair advantage etc. I'm sure he's heard all the arguments against it. Let them earn money other ways (like they already do) and give them a stipend along with all student athletes on scholarship. Student athletes are already getting paid with an education worth a lot and all the perks.

Mark Lindrud 9 years, 1 month ago

The schools make millions off of athletes, the least they can do is increase the stipends to athletes who are a big part of that money machine. Being an NCAA athlete is a full time job and you are kidding yourself otherwise. Classes are missed throughout the season and the offseason is packed full of preparing for the regular season. Most of the athletes do not have much time to even study. To be a student athlete is not like it used to be and until the NCAA is able to change from its old boy rules then of course these kids are going to curb the rules and go pro as quickly as possible.

Phil Leister 9 years, 1 month ago

The only thing wrong with this is it only pertains to a few players per team. And it barely pertains to most mid-majors and lower schools. There are still issues with the 90% of each team that won't play in the NBA that need to be addressed.

Carter Patterson 9 years, 1 month ago

What would happen under the Bilas system is that boosters would end up paying "students" for writing a book "Why the Chicken Crossed the Road" if the student ends up being an "athlete" for their school. While I agree with alot of the premises offered about how unfair things are, he's really not offered a workable option in my opinion.

If there is a way to corrupt a system, then the system will be corrupted.

Ethan Berger 9 years, 1 month ago

Technically, wouldn't that be okay? Writing books isn't a pro sport, so he wouldn't be getting money for playing that sport. Remember making money isn't the problem, it's playing a sport for money.

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 1 month ago

There must be some problem with making money. They won't let scholarship athletes get a job to make spending money. Also remember the Texas transfer (so embarrassed I can't remember his name right now) who made a music CD and wasn't allowed to market it because he was a student athlete. Surely that's the same type of thing as writing a book.

Ethan Berger 9 years, 1 month ago

Dang, well I guess that means the NCAA has no common sense.

bad_dog 9 years, 1 month ago

I believe you're thinking of Luke Axtell.

Tim Orel 9 years, 1 month ago

Jeremy Bloom, a world class skier who wanted to play football at Colorado, had to give up skiing during the years he was at CU. He couldn't pay his own way (which skiing allowed him the money for) but he had to be a total amateur. He did wind up leaving skiing for awhile, but few could do that and nobody should have to. It wasn't even his sport. Kinda like CJ Henry giving up baseball, though he at least had the Yankees paying his tuition even though he wasn't playing for them anymore. This is NCAA totally being the bully. It should stop.

Carter Patterson 9 years, 1 month ago

I think it would be great for the athletes to get normal jobs that they are qualified for....but in reality, what will happen is that Ohio State Ford/Lincoln/Mercury will start hiring OL and DL for $100K / year because they are great at selling cars. This will force USC Studios to start hiring WRs and QBs at $150K for small roles in movies.

Oldalum, I agree that a talented musician who is an athlete is screwed. But what's to prevent a crappy musician to commit to a school when the coach tells him that "our fanbase will buy $500K of your records if you come play for us?".

I'm all for finding a solution to the problem, but Bilas does not address the reality of the scenarios that I've just brought up. If there was a rule that says "common sense" prevails, that would be wonderful. But in world of lawyers and word picking, people will take advantage of the system for their own favor.

jhwkscottco 9 years, 1 month ago

Needed to read up on this but have long thought the baseball rule would be best for the system. The rule reads: High school players are eligible only after graduation, and if they have not attended college. Players at four-year colleges are eligible after completing their junior years, or after their 21st birthdays. Junior and community college players are eligible to be drafted at any time.

I'd take out the JUCO piece and let the Lebrons of the world go for it, while others stay in school for three years. Know this doesn't address the stipend piece but think it would be an excellent start. The current system is even worse when you consider most OAD's (i.e. Selby) really only attend class for 1 semester and then fake it through March.

Kristospherein 9 years, 1 month ago

This is better than what Bilas precisely proposed.

Eric Williams 9 years, 1 month ago

I've also often said use the baseball rule.

Force kids to spend 3 years in college:

A) Coaches can recruit more accurately without worrying about the next season's roster

B) Academics actually matter since you can't take only survey courses.

C) The players actually benefit because they have more knowledge when the exit college prepared to make millions. Sidenote: Any athlete considering professional sports should be required to take an accounting/business course that helps teach them about managing money to avoid the rampant bankruptcy.

D) NCAA benefits from increased competitiveness

E) NBA can then take NBA-Ready guys like Shabazz without waiting.

Ethan Berger 9 years, 1 month ago

I personally think 2 would be perfect. By that time most kids will be going into their third year in college, so they will mature a lot more. It keeps the kids who figured out that they aren't as good as they thought, and it doesn't imprison the ones who deserve to go.

Kyle Sybesma 9 years, 1 month ago

Everyone wants to talk about all the problems this idea offers but we have so many problems now wouldn't it be better to give something new a try?

jgkojak 9 years, 1 month ago

Here's the problem with "park and play":

Let's say Bill Self gets a kid who is "drafted" by the Lakers. And this kid is an ass, doesn't do what Bill wants him to, hogs the ball, maybe gives some lip in the locker room-- so Bill sits him.

After a couple games, Bill gets a call from the Lakers: "Why you sittin' my kid? He needs PT"

Now, Bill Self, Roy Williams, Coach K, Pitno, they'll tell 'em where to stick it.

But most (90%) of coaches won't - and suddenly the university programs are wholly owned subsidiaries of whoever they have drafted - it wouldn't surprise me if some schools develop special "relationships" with teams - "all my guys who play for the 76ers go to Temple"

So bad idea.

Also - let's take the book-

let's say you are a grad student doing research, and you write the book that is substantially related to your research - the university can claim ownership of that material.

I think student-athletes should be paid like students - the hourly work-study rate (7-8 an hour- maybe more for Seniors, less for Freshman) for their official hours of practice and game/team time. That would work out to 30hrs a week and around 1000 - 1400 a month - more than what I lived on in college. There are grad students and others doing some pretty advanced internship work that would net them 6 figures in the private sector that they get nothing for as a student.

I wonder how many kids would end up staying if they had that to fall back on?

I also wouldn't have a problem with once a year stipends on top of the hourly rate to get kids through the summer - maybe 1K as freshmen and 4K as seniors.

Phil Leister 9 years, 1 month ago

Perfectly said. I love the idea of counting the practice hours as "work".

Sam Constance 9 years, 1 month ago

Keegan should use your post instead of Bilas' thoughts.

I generally think of Bilas as a great basketball mind and a great mind in general, but I think he's simply on the wrong side of the issue with the whole compensation for student athletes issue.

It's disappointing, because I would expect someone with a legal degree to understand the following idea. That even though college athletics generates billions of dollars and the disparity between those billions and the monetary value of tuition/room/board is quite large, the primary driver behind that revenue isn't the individual athletes, but the school "brands" themselves.

Sure, KU wouldn't be as popular as it is without the athletes to play the game and do it so well, but the athletes rotate completely out of the program on a regular basis--4 years or less.

I see it as akin to a software developer who works for Apple. Yes, the developers are essential to the success of Apple's business, and they are compensated handsomely for it. But the compensation an individual developer receives pales in comparison to the overall value of Apple itself, because primary source of revenue is the brand and the brand's reputation. The developers support and enable the success of this brand, but if Developer X wasn't employed at Apple, Developer Y could come in and fill the void.

Same with student athletes. They are compensated handsomely for their contribution to the Kansas Basketball "brand", but the compensation is just a fraction of the overall value because their individual contribution is only a fraction of the overall product. Plus, student athletes are getting compensated while they continue to learn their craft, so really their situation is more analogous to a software development INTERN at Apple (not sure if that's even a thing, but you get the idea), rather than a full-on, professional developer.

But I digress. You've laid out perfectly why using the NCAA as any sort of "officially sanctioned" feeder for a professional league is a terrible idea. The potential for conflict of interest is just too great. Nice post.

hawkdds 9 years, 1 month ago

How many professional atheletes are broke within 4 years because they don't have an education worthy of handling millions of dollars, think Vince Young . They are at the mercy of professional financial planners, lawyers and agents who steal them blind and then move on to the next pigeon. They go to the back of the classroom, are never called on to contribute and often are asleep. I witnessed it all to often.

Cody Riedy 9 years, 1 month ago

I'm not sure I like the "parking" idea either. People here have already raised some reasonable objections. One solution though, is that the NBA could only pay out a small stipend while the student is in college and put the rest of the money in a trust or simply use performance-based incentives. In this case, performance could be tied to fulfilling academic responsibilities. I just don't see how a an 18 year old could keep his head straight as a student and a college player if he's already got a hundreds of thousands if not millions in his bank account.

JohnyChimpo 9 years, 1 month ago

Doesn't it make sense to just professionalize college sports? If you look at Mexican soccer, their league has teams that are affiliated with universities (UNAM Pumas, among others). The athletes are not students at the university, but they wear the university emblem when they play their matches.

There are many different options to make this possible in the NCAA, but my version would go like this: Athletes would receive a standardized "stipend" that would reflect the average value that a player has to the school in a given sport. Eligibility in the system would be limited to four years, and eligibility would not be based on qualifying academically. Athletes could opt to take classes while they play, or wait until after their playing days to enter into an undergraduate program. Finally, athletes would be given a tuition guarantee to attend any participating NCAA school for which they qualify academically.

kerbyd 9 years, 1 month ago

Since the NBA seems to benefit the most from this system why not just let them put money into a fund to pay the stipends.

Boouk 9 years, 1 month ago

Why hasn't David Stern changed the age limit rule by now? It's long overdue.

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 1 month ago

Agreed. But it's apparently up to the players' union, and they like it this way.

Eric J. Baker 9 years, 1 month ago

The NCAA does not exist to serve the NBA. I don't give two craps about the NBA, beyond liking to see my favorite college players achieve their dreams. I'm sick and f-cking tired of hearing about all these ideas of how to "fix" the NCAA that all involve completely mocking the idea of academics and colleges and institutions of LEARNING. Why the hell should some kid who's a good basketball player get paid with my tuition money and then not be held to the exact same academic standards I am? Quite frankly that's insulting to me and every single other college student, especially the ones (also like me) who have to pay for their tuition themselves. It makes my degree seem secondary to entertainment. And f-ck that. Jay Bilas has been spewing this crap for years and it REALLLLLY pisses me off. I've had to completely disengage from everything that idiot writes because it makes me so angry that he has such a complete and utter disregard for tertiary education. He's a basketball analyst, so he should analyze BASKETBALL; I don't want his completely uneducated opinion on the university system. And although I appreciate Keegan more than most readers here, I suggest he take the same advice. This kind of sh-t makes me angry to read. I wish I could get a free f-cking education just for possessing an arbitrary skill people enjoy watching on TV. And I wish that arbitrary skill paid so well I not only COULD completely waste/ignore that education, I was EXPECTED to.

Cody Riedy 9 years, 1 month ago

While I'm not opposed to colleges giving student athletes a small stipend, I also am really opposed to the idea of entangling the university system in professional sports. If the NBA wants a minor league system, they can pay for it and run it. It isn't the job of tax-funded institutions of higher learning to figure out how to help manage talent development for professional sports. On one hand the current system annoys me because it works to protect NBA owners from making potentially bad investments while colleges get to profit off of the kids in the meantime. On the other hand, this notion that college athletes should get paid is related to the way college is now treated primarily as an investment and everything about it is expected to be justified in terms of increasing future earnings for those who invest in it. Yes college is expensive and we should address its costs. But we also need to overcome our capitalist barbarism and re-emphasize that college education has importance beyond making future employees - whether students plan to make a career as an athlete or not.

PSM 9 years, 1 month ago

a 20 year old with an expendable income is a scary thing. especially a 20 year old who has never had any money. Sincerely, a 24 year old

JayHawkFanToo 9 years, 1 month ago

Saying that athletes don't get paid is plain BS. According to College Data: the cost of attending KU for an out-of-sate student, which a typical athlete would be is $36,200 per year; all athletes get this much. Add to that::

Cost of way above average accommodations =?

Cost of way above average food ( we are not taking ramen noodles here) = ?

Cost of having the best college coach in College Basketball teach you the business = ?

Cost of access to one of the top athletic staffs = ?

Cost of access to the top trainer in the business = ?

Cost of access to top athletic facilities = ?

Cost of all medical care from flu shots to extensive surgery =?

Cost of playing in the Cathedral of Basketball and the corresponding exposure = ?

Cost of tutors and advisers to help you with academics = ?

An actuarial analyst would estimate the cost of the package above at what? 100K?

Which one of you got this much assistance while attending college? Not me; my parents paid for most of my undergraduate expenses and I got two jobs in addition to my graduate assistantships in order to meet expenses while in graduate school. So excuse me if I do not feel too bad for athletes.

Spencer Goff 9 years, 1 month ago

"Not me; my parents paid for most of my undergraduate expenses..."

Lucky you.

JayHawkFanToo 9 years, 1 month ago

...and the rest I paid by working full time summers and part time during school, and when my own kids went to college, I did the same for them. This is what parents do, isn't it?

Michael Johnson 9 years, 1 month ago

Kansas, Duke, NC... All get the best recruits because it gives the players the best vehicle to the next level. I'm afraid the parking rule would water down any advantage KU might have in recruiting.

justinryman 9 years, 1 month ago

The NCAA doesn't wan a kid to make money, they want to make money off the kid.


Here is an isnstance where the NCAA really could have beniffited from letting a kid do two things, can you imagine the free plublicity during the Olympics? No instead they gave him the either or option.

Also if the NCAA cared about kids, there wouldn't be this story.


And they wonder why kids at Ohio St. give thier unis away for tattoos, if OSU is doing that what are other players at other schoolsdoing to survive?

Kristospherein 9 years, 1 month ago

"An English major, one of the panelists pointed out, can write a book and sell it. A basketball player can’t capitalize on his skills, which help universities to make millions. Bilas called such a double-standard 'immoral.'"

This is a bad example. I had to sign a statement with my University (NC State) that basically said if I invented anything or created anything (database, program, scientific method) at the school, a certain percentage of the profits would go to the university. I don't know if all have such statements but they as a university go screwed out of billions of dollars when they allowed 2 professors create SAS at NC State without any compensation.

That said, I still believe players should get paid a stipend for their services and the leaving early allowance should be nixed.

utahjayhawk 9 years, 1 month ago

You had to sign such a statement as a student?! I think you're referring to when you were an employee of the university, of which students are not. I've never a heard of a university claiming rights to intellectual property generated by a student, since there's no employer-employee or contractual work relationship. If that's the case, the analogy would seem to stand.

minnhawk84 9 years, 1 month ago

In the "old days" student athletes worked summers at the University. When I attended the University of Missouri (yes, I admit I did) most of the football and basketball team "worked" at the university golf course for $12.00 per hour. Minimum wage was $1.81 an hour then. Work consisted of showing up at 7:00 am, sitting around for awhile, working until 10:00 am and then wandering over to the football clubhouse (conveniently located on the edge of the golf course) to work out. Free lunch at the dining facility, then somehow getting lost the rest of the day but still getting paid for 8 hours. My second cousin who played at Florida State in the Sixties "worked" in the salt mines (literally, not figuratively) every summer, mines owned by an FSU alum. Made a good wage, got in better shape.

Are you all saying that student athletes cannot get a summer job anymore? How are rich alumni or the university supposed to slip them money?

Martin Rosenblum 9 years, 1 month ago

Summer jobs interfere with the multitude of bball camps that the better skilled players usually attend. These have become second nature for athletes, mostly in bball.

BTW, if minimum wage was 1.81 when you went to Mizz., I'm guessing that must have been in the early Norm Stewart days. Any names you want to share who were being paid like princes back then?

Micky Baker 9 years, 1 month ago

Or, if a kid leaves college before they graduate, then team that drafts him pays the school back for the scholarship to go towards non-athletes that want to attend school. College is for education, not for a stepping stone to the Pro Sports leagues. In the cases of the NBA, I don't think it would be too much to ask to ask the player who leaves early to pay back the scholarship money, unless and only if the player graduates before they get drafted.

There are some players that do finish after they've been drafted. I think Paul Pierce finished his degree. I could be mistaken on that though. College shouldn't be used by Pro Sports leagues the way that it is.

hawkdds 9 years, 1 month ago

If a parent or relative wants to travel to see their offspring or relative play college sports it's not the University's responsibility for the cost--sorry Bill Self , I can't agree with you. Many parents get new jobs, cars or houses shortly after their child commits, been going on for 50 years and few get caught-think Reggie Busch. The system is corrupt and an insult to every hard-working student scraping by .

Commenting has been disabled for this item.