On Tuesday, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski spoke with the media for the first time since the FBI’s investigation into college basketball erupted into the public’s view last week, ripping the current model and advocating for wholesale changes to the sport.
Coach K is in favor of players being able to enter the NBA Draft out of high school and hinted at the idea that athletes should receive more compensation in college than they currently do.
But he also advocated for there being someone in charge of the sport of college basketball – a commissioner, if you will – because there needs to be a driving force that can bring together the NCAA, the NBA, the players’ union and the shoe companies to do what is best for the sport.
“The landscape of college basketball for the player, from middle school to high school to college to the pros, keeps changing,” Krzyzewski said during Duke’s media day. “We in college have not changed as much as the landscape has changed. We are not equipped right now to handle that. We don’t have a good model, a model that fits what’s happening in basketball, so college basketball’s going to have problems. Before these kids ever come to us, we are not the only ones recruiting these youngsters. Talent is being recruited all the time in every shape and form.”
He’s right, and the genesis of the issue is that athletes – the best of the best in the sport – are not allowed to tap into the value that they have.
In basketball, it’s a fairly simple task of identifying players that will end up being NBA basketball players. It may not be an exact science, and we may not be able to predict who will end up being Kevin Durant and who is going to turn into Jonathan Bender, but if you go back and look at the top 10 players in every recruiting class, the overwhelming majority of them – roughly 90% – end up playing in the NBA in some form or fashion. Some of them turn into international megastars that can sell shoes and jerseys and everything else to people around the world.
Agents want to get a 4 percent cut of those future earnings. Shoe companies want to be able to sell the signature shoe of the next LeBron. The incentive to invest in these players, above board or under the table, is never going to go away.
Only the NCAA refuses to admit it.
“There’s no progress, there’s absolutely no progress,” he said. “There is progress on what a player gets in college now, but that is only enforced upon the NCAA because of litigation.”
“Nobody has the solution, but a bunch of people have the ideas,” he added. “How do we figure that all out and who figures it out? There is no who, there is a group called the who but they don’t figure out this particular thing.”
“We are not running this the way a billion-dollar industry should be run. We try and put a circle into a square, that’s what men’s college basketball is. It’s not a bad circle, it’s a great one, but it can’t be done like a square.”
Only time will tell whether or not the changes that need to be made will get made.
“Last week was bad, doesn’t mean all of college basketball is bad,” Krzyzewski said. “It also doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the tip of some iceberg. I don’t necessarily agree with that. I think the iceberg is really good.”