Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is arguably the most powerful voice in college basketball, and of late, he has used that voice to take swings at the NCAA for an utter lack of preparation in regards to the changing landscape of college basketball.
On Tuesday night, after Duke held off a scrappy Boston College team in Conte Forum, he again took aim at the association.
“Do you see anybody coming out from the NCAA saying what our future is?” Coach K said. “What’s our plan? And by the way, who would say that?”
The collegiate model, and college basketball specifically, has reached an inflection point. The push for the end of amateurism has never been stronger, and it’s coming at the same time that the NBA is expected to abolish the one-and-done rule. The NBA is preparing for the future. They have increased their investment in the G League. They have boosted the salaries at that level. They are doing everything they can to turn the league they own into the best place for players to develop as they try and turn themselves into NBA players.
The NCAA, in the meantime, is pushing back against the movement to give athletes access to their Name, Image and Likeness rights, and it’s impossible not to connect that to the 87 players who left school with eligibility remaining to pursue a two-way contract, a spot in training camp or an overseas deal that pays roughly the same amount as a manager at a Taco Bell.
“The whole state of college basketball has been hurt by how many kids have tested the waters,” K said. “It’s not the one-and-dones. We’ve lost about 70-to-80 kids who weren’t even drafted besides the ones who were drafted. I wish the whole thing would change.”
In the end, college basketball is going to survive. The end of days narrative that is being pushed by certain members of the media ignores two things: People love to gamble on March Madness and people are always going to be rooting for their favorite piece of laundry. Kentucky grads aren’t going to stop loving Wildcats basketball just because they end up with more guys like Nick Richards and less guys like Tyrese Maxey, or Malik Monk, or De’Aaron Fox.
But surviving is different than thriving, and if the NCAA is actually worried about college basketball being something other than a month-long marketing tool for legal sportsbooks, they should pay attention to what Coach K is asking.
“We’ve got to be so careful,” K said. “I’ve said this for a couple years that as soon as they said high school kids can go sometime soon, we as a college committee don’t think of what that means. The NBA does. The NBA has ramped up the G-League, unionized. You see things on TV.
“How many high school games do you see now on TV? I see in the future a high school megaleague that has a TV contract. Can that happen? You bet your butt it can happen, especially if those kids aren’t going to go to college. The NBA’s going to want to promote those guys.”