Charles Barkley admitting that he took money from agents during his time at Auburn isn’t some sort of major revelation. Barkley revealed as much before in an interview in 2010 with Dan Patrick.
But Barkley made some interesting remarks on accepting money from agents and his motivations in an interview set to air this weekend on WBRC.
“I got some cash from agents,” Barkley said on “In Depth with Graham Bensigner,” which will air Saturday. “I’ve talked to the NCAA. I think that should be legal. I want some money too, everybody else is making money. I want to go on dates. I want to go buy myself some new suits. I want to buy myself some new sneakers, and I paid the agents back.”
Barkley said that taking money from agents helped him stay in school instead of leaving early. The money enabled him to live more comfortably while still in school.
“I think the most I took was $20,000. It made me stay in school another year. $20,000 is not a lot of money, but I was able to do some stuff for my mother and grandmother and I had some spending money. I’m cool. I don’t have to go into the real world of the NBA after one college season,” Barkley said in the interview.
“Most of these kids leave school for money,” Barkley said. “What’s wrong with an agent letting me borrow some money, so I can give it to my mom and do some stuff I want to do? He’s making me stay in school by lending me money. The bank’s going to charge me interest. He’s helping me. I understand (he wants to represent me professionally) but I think more kids would stay in school.”
The outspoken Barkley makes some interesting points regarding kids staying in school with a little bit of help from agents. If some players had even a little bit of spending money from agents to entice them to continue their education and enhance their lives long-term rather than prematurely jump into professional basketball then it could help a few players out.
But this sort of thing is such a delicate balance to deal with, and as Barkley points out, agents are doing this to land business. Either way, the NCAA will never allow this sort of thing to fly as agents are often viewed as a major public enemy in the cause of amateur athletics.
Prior to embarking on a lengthy NBA career that resulted in one MVP trophy (1993) and a spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Charles Barkley played three seasons at Auburn University and to this day remains arguably the greatest basketball player in school history (current assistant Chuck Person is the school’s all-time leading scorer). Barkley played three seasons for Sonny Smith on the Plains, but according to Brandon Marcello of AL.com the “Round Mound of Rebound” states in a documentary set to debut later this month that he was nearly done after two.
Plenty of players have frustrating moments during their career, and that was the case for Barkley as he and Smith butted heads on occasion. Also of note in the documentary is the school Barkley had plans of transferring to: Alabama.
“I called the coaches at Alabama at the end of my sophomore year and told them I’m transferring to Alabama because I had just had enough,” Barkley said.
“I got on him really bad one day and he couldn’t take it any more,” Smith says in the documentary. “He just walked off the floor and quit.”
The documentary “Bo, Barkley and the Big Hurt” focuses on the careers of Auburn greats Barkley, Bo Jackson and Frank Thomas, who all moved on to put together impactful careers in the athletic world (and Tecmo Bowl in the case of Bo) after their time at Auburn. But the possibility of Barkley making the move to Auburn’s biggest rival is one that leads to asking what would have happened with his career had he followed through.
While some conferences prohibit athletes from transferring within the league, and as we’ve seen many schools will take the step of not releasing an athlete to fellow league members. But the SEC’s transfer rule is simply that an athlete would have to sit out a year (the usual NCAA rule) before being allowed to play, and they can receive an athletic grant-in-aid as well.
Had Barkley actually transferred, would his career still conclude with a spot in the Hall of Fame? And, having to sit out a season, when would Barkley be drafted in the 1985 NBA Draft? Barkley was picked fifth overall in the 1984 NBA Draft, considered by many to be the greatest draft in the history of the NBA.
There’s no denying the fact that Bruce Pearl has his work cut out for him at Auburn, where he’s been handed the keys to a program that has struggled mightily in recent years. But with the hiring of Pearl, who was highly successful at Tennessee before NCAA sanctions led to his dismissal, fans, administrators and former players are optimistic about the future.
One of those former players is Charles Barkley, who after three seasons at Auburn left as one of the greatest players in school history. During the men’s basketball reunion on Friday, Barkley expressed his approval of the hire made by athletic director Jay Jacobs.
What was also learned during that reunion was the fact that Pearl has held onto a voicemail left by Barkley nearly a decade ago, noting that it continues to serve as a source of motivation for him.
On the message, which lasted roughly 10-12 seconds, were the kind of words of encouragement that still provide Pearl an emotional lift to this day:
“Bruce Pearl, this is Charles Barkley, you do not need to call me back. I’ve just been watching your teams play and I love the way you coach and I love the way your teams play.”
“I have it on an old cell phone,” Pearl said Friday evening from the Auburn Men’s Basketball Reunion at the Moore’s Mill Club in Auburn. “And there were times when we get down on ourselves (as coaches) and we lose confidence in what we do, and I’ve listened to that message a time or two. I’d never met him, I didn’t call him back because he said don’t call me back, but I kept that message.”
Much tends to be made about the players a new coach can bring in, and Pearl’s staff has gotten off to a solid start recruiting-wise with his show-cause not coming to its conclusion until late August. However it’s also important for the new head coach to establish a connection with the past, especially when it comes to the players who helped the program achieve success.
That’s the value of events such as Friday’s reunion, and if Auburn is to make the climb back to respectability and earn NCAA tournament bids the players of the past can help Pearl as he looks to sell his program to recruits and a fan base hungry for a winner.