Jay Bilas and the NCAA’s ‘lame excuses’

Just as ESPN’s College Basketball GameDay revisits our lovely corner of the world for Saturday’s Kentucky-Florida throwdown at Rupp Arena, Chicago media reporter Ed Sherman gives us a fantastic interview with the one and only Jay Bilas.

The piece’s main topic concerns the issue of paying college athletes and, as usual, Bilas speaks his mind, highlighting many of the hypocrisies of college athletics. Or as Bilas puts it — and I completely agree — it is no longer college sports; it’s pro sports.

Bilas says the reasons colleges give not to pay the athletes are “lame excuses.”

One such excuse is that there is not enough money to go around and that schools would have to cut sports if they are required to pay the athletes.

“Nobody has to say if you pay Rick Pitino or Coach K and Bill Self $5 to $10 million, you’re not going to have other sports. Nobody says that.”

Lucrative coaching salaries are considered a fact of life these days. They continue to skyrocket, with no end in sight. Remember in 2001, when Mitch Barnhart let Guy Morriss go to Baylor because he didn’t believe in paying the head coach $1 million a year? In 2012, he hired Mark Stoops, a career assistant coach, for much more than $1 million a year to be the head coach. That’s the marketplace. It’s just accepted.

It’s also another reason why beginning in August, Kentucky basketball fans will have to pay a higher cable television bill to get the SEC Network, so they can watch the basketball fans they are now getting at a lower price. Nothing comes free. Not anymore.

Bilas says he thinks the unionizing of college athletes is “inevitable,” and he continues his criticisms of the NCAA. He says he has no problem with the people at the NCAA, just the policies of the body.

“I think this is pro sport, and the only thing that’s not pro about it is the fact they don’t pay the employees,” Bilas said.

Ah, truth to power.

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