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Billy Donovan: for athletes, lack of compensation ‘difficult to swallow’

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While the focus of the latest scandals in college sports have all been football — Johnny Manziel’s autographs, Sports Illustrated’s Oklahoma State exposé, Yahoo’s story on a former Alabama player turned runner for an agent — the crux of the discussion that’s been generated is very much pertinent to college basketball as well.

Should collegiate athletes be paid?

If you read this site, than you know where I stand on the issue. Amateurism is a fraudulent concept rooted in preventing working class people from playing sports in England in the 1800’s. (I might as well just link Dan Wetzel’s column from yesterday, because he lays it all out for you.)

It’s a major talking point in college athletics, and last month, Billy Donovan addressed it while speaking at Capital City Area Gator Club in Tallahassee.

From Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun:

“There is a feel by a lot of families that here you have these huge athletic departments, you have arenas, stadiums filled up and these kids are told, you can’t go out and you can’t take a free meal, you can’t take anything,” Donovan said. “A lot of times for those kids, I think it’s very difficult to swallow that.”

Donovan later touches on the idea of limited earning potential and careers that rarely last into an athlete’s mid-30s and can be cut short any time they suit up. All it takes is one bad step to blow out a knee.

For the overwhelming majority of college athletes, a scholarship is a great deal. Free schooling (read: no student loans) and the chance to play a sport at the highest level? That’s awesome.

But a small number of stars having significant value while in college. For basketball players, it’s not a huge issue. Andrew Wiggins is going to spend seven months feigning being an amateur before he gets his millions. But Jadeveon Clowney has to watch three years worth of money end up in the pockets of the higher-ups at South Carolina and the suits at the NCAA.

If you think exchanging that money for a degree in a field that he will certainly not be going pro in is a fair deal for Clowney, than I don’t know what to say to you.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: