Jay Bilas, the former Duke basketball player and ESPN analyst, gave a keynote talk at the annual meeting of the College Sports Research Institute last week. At the Chronicle of Higher Education, Brad Wolverton reports on Bilas' remarks:
Among his criticism:College athletes are certainly not treated as students first. Bilas is right on target.
Amateurism, the bedrock principle upon which NCAA sports is based, is a sham. “Amateurism doesn’t provide us with anything of real value. It doesn’t make a person a better student. It doesn’t enhance their education. It doesn’t make them a better teammate,” he said. “All it does is provide a cap among college athletes.”
College athletes are the only people on campus whose compensation is capped, argued Bilas, a former Duke University player and Emmy Award-winning commentator. If the NCAA wants to pretend like athletes are just like other students, the association should remove that barrier and allow athletes to be paid the way any other student can be, he said.
His own nephew was just elected president of the student government at the University of Kentucky, where he is given an office, a parking space, six free tickets to every home basketball game, and $5,000 a year. “Anthony Davis, the national player of the year, gets nothing,” Bilas said, referring to the Wildcats’ freshman phenom.
NCAA President Mark Emmert likes to say that NCAA athletes are students first, who happen to be athletes, Bilas said. “Coach K recruited me at Duke. He didn’t come to my high school library and say, ‘You’re the kind of student we like at Duke. If you happen to play ball, great.’ He got me out of a gym,” Bilas said. “The idea that athletes are students first, that’s so stupid. Why do we try to sell that?”