Kylia Carter knows all-too-well about the perils of the NCAA.
She herself is a former student-athlete, having been a scholarship basketball player at Ole Miss in the 1980s. Wendell Carter Sr., her husband, played at Delta State and professionally in the Domincan Republic. Her son, Wendell Carter Jr., was a top five prospect that played at Duke. The family in the course of Jr.’s recruitment, wound up reportedly sharing a meal with Christian Dawkins, which became public knowledge when Yahoo Sports was able to get their hands on the expense reports that Dawkins filed with the agent, Andy Miller, he worked for.
Suffice to say, she knows a thing or two about the realities of big-time college basketball.
She’s also ‘woke’. She understands the value of an education — she pushed her son to attend Harvard for his one-and-done season — and is aware of the fact that the life her and her family lead is different than the life that is led by most black families in America.
That is why she was such an intriguing choice to speak at the Knight Commission, an independent group that promotes reform to strengthen the educational mission of college sports. Not only is she an outspoken advocate for change regarding the NCAA’s arcane amateurism by-laws, but she does it while trumpeting the value of an education.
And the major point that Kylia makes during her 12-minute speech on Monday is simple: There is no actual value to the education that the NCAA members provide to players like her son, because athletes like Wendell Carter Jr. are not being recruited because of the value they bring to the academic community on campus, they are being recruited because they excel in a sport that provides massive financial windfalls for the school.
She also makes it clear that she understands the value of a scholarship; if she didn’t she would not have pushed her son to play at Harvard. But what value are athletes going to get out of two semesters worth of introductory courses, particularly when they are basketball players that spend half of each semester dealing with travel schedules that force them to play mid-week games away from home?
I’ve spent enough time ranting about amateurism and the Commission on College Basketball recently, and if that is the kind of thing you are interested in, read this and this. I won’t bore you with those arguments today.
What I will say, however, is that Kylia Carter knows how this system works from just about every angle.
When she talks, you should at the very least listen to what she says and take it to heart.
And what she said Monday was quite powerful.
(We discussed this during the most recent CBT Podcast.)
The video is above. Below is a transcription of the most important part of it all.
As we grew in this business and we pull back all the layers, and I began to see what I was actually looking at. To be honest with you, it’s nauseating.
To have the opportunity to say this and not say it, I’ll feel like I felt when I was a student-athlete at Mississippi and my friends were in classrooms being called horrific names, having food and things thrown at them as they were walking past the union. And them saying these things to me and me telling them, ‘Surely not. There’s no way that’s happening. This is a wonderful place. I’m having such a great time. Everything is going so wonderful. What are you talking about?’
And so I migrated to the people that were having experiences like mine instead of those that were having trouble that looked like me, that were having real struggles.
So, I say that to say, I cannot be here now and not say that when I pull back the layers, the problem I see is not with the student-athlete, it’s not with the coaches or the institutions of higher learning, but it’s with a system like the only system that I have ever seen, where the laborers are the only people that are not being compensated for the work that they do, while those in charge receive mighty compensation. The only two systems that I’ve known that to be in place is slavery and the prison system.
And now I see the NCAA. The overseers of a system that is identical for that.
So it’s very difficult for me to sit here and not say that there is a problem that is sickening. But the problem isn’t being directed in the right place. And I think that it should be. And I think that the covers should be pulled back and everyone be able to see the truth and what’s happening to the student-athlete and their family. Because once these students are recruited to these institutions of higher learning—which are fantastic; I am a proponent of academic excellence, a proponent of education, a proponent of knowledge. I love it. It’s beautiful to me. That’s why my son had such a hard time selecting between Harvard and Duke, because his mother and father wanted him to go to Harvard because of the experience for a man that looks like him. Though he didn’t choose it, I am so ever grateful that he went to Duke. It was a wonderful experience and everything that he needed it to be to get him to this next level.
Still, after the infractions that they accused us of doing—something with one of the people being investigated by the FBI. But I was still flabbergasted at the people that were being indicted. I knew some of those people.
I know for a fact that this has been going on since I was being recruited. I’m a female, so I know that the recruitment was vastly for male athletes, and it was corrupt then. I remember kids not being able to pass the ACT test. They called them Prop 48 students. And they would let the Prop 48 students come to school and play, knowing that they couldn’t pass the academic portions. But they let them in school anyway. They would tell you it was to afford you this scholarship.
No. It’s because of the money that you would bring to that institution for playing all those years. Or you being a part of that program. At the end of the day, the talent is being purchased. The talent is being purchased, but the talented are not receiving any of the benefit. The colleges are only recruiting the talented kids for their talent, not because they will excel at their academic institution. So why is that the benefit of them going to that institution. I want them to go, but I want them to go for two years. If you’re going to make them go, make them go and get something from it.
Why can’t they go to college and get this two-year certificate in this professional sport that they are pursuing if they are that talented, so that they are aware and educated on the business of the sport that they want to [play]?
There’s a model that’s similar to this overseas, where the get the kids out of high school. Luka Doncic [a Slovenian playing for Real Madrid that is the potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft] has been playing professional for years. There’s a program in place to do that for him.
Why is there not something to protect these children that look like my son and me, to protect them as they pursue what their talents have afforded them to pursue? And I’m not talking about an agent, I’m talking about a not-for-profit organization to teach them and help them, and to teach them to stay close-knit and do the things so they can remain successful.
I’m going to stop because I will continue and go on and on. My mission, my goal and my understanding for being here is to protect and hopefully help everyone to see the need to surround the athlete and protect them and their families moving forward.