Coach K spoke up on Tuesday about the state of the game and what he thinks needs to be done.
Basically he’s acknowledging what everyone knows but no one seems prepared to address, which is the vast amount of money swirling through the game from AAU ball to the NBA.
It’s in college hoops to, as we learned again last week, but people have to be furtive.
Several years ago we suggested that the NCAA, the shoe companies and the NBA work together to make things more rational. Here are our current suggestions, in case anyone is listening:
- It’s probably time to let some market forces in the game. Shoes, jerseys, autographs, personal appearances - those are things the NCAA could let the players do with little damage to the core income basketball presents to the organization. More prominent players could get a bigger cut and the rest could be distributed to the others.
- Tie potential income to academic performance. The irony of this is that guys at places like Stanford, Yale and (yes) Northwestern would probably get paid better than players at a lot of other schools. It would be interesting if the balance of power began to shift.
- Set up a continuing education account for every player. The NCAA allows for a maximum of five years of college ball, six in highly unusual situations. When players get their degrees, any money left in the fund could roll back over to the body at large. Those funds could be pooled and redistributed annually.
- This is our least favorite option but it has to be mentioned. Coach K has pushed the idea of a NCAA men’s basketball commissioner for years. What he hasn’t said, and we’re not sure anyone else has either, is that he'd be a logical fit for that job. There are a lot of people who would probably do fine. Duke’s A.D. Kevin White, for instance, could handle it. Homer Drew might be a good fit. Tubby Smith might be too. Jay Bilas would be fun. But we can’t think of anyone with a better combination of experience, vision and leadership abilities than Coach K. He’d be a home run hire. That would mean we’d have to give him up here which no one would want, but would he be great at that job? Hell yes.