Billy Donovan says tournament has changed

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ARLINGTON, Tex. — Interesting question and answer today during Florida’s press conference previewing Saturday’s first Final Four game between the No. 1-ranked Gators and Connecticut.

Florida coach Billy Donovan was asked about the amount of money that coaches make in comparison to what the players get and how the NCAA Tournament has changed.

Question: You talked yesterday about thinking that something needs to be done for the players in terms of increasing the benefits or making it more fair. What do you think about the amount of money that you make compared to what the kids do and don’t get? As a coach and former player in this tournament, are you ever concerned that some of the issues today could affect this or make it go away or change what has become the NCAA tournament as we know it now?

“Yeah, I’m not saying that the system is always fair or right,” Donovan said. “I think in any system you can look at it and say, Is it fair and right? I think that’s why change is good. I think that’s why people look at what’s right, what’s wrong, what we can do.

“This is what I think has happened from an evolution from when I played. When I played in this event 26 years ago, there was a meaning about playing for Providence College. There was a meaning and a value, back then it was glorified that you just got a scholarship to college, that your family didn’t have to pay for your education. You needed your degree to move on. Representing your school and your school colors and putting a college uniform on and representing the Big East, there were a lot of those things 26 years ago that were really valuable.

“I think what’s happened now is because of the opportunity to earn money in the game of basketball, those opportunities are far greater than they were 26 years ago. A lot of kids now look at this as, I’ve got an earning window to make money playing this game, and really in a lot of ways I have a lifetime to get my degree and I can never earn as much money with my degree coming out of college that I could if I took an overseas job.

“Forget the NBA. We have had guys that have been at Florida that have been well over six figures as it relates to contracts. That’s not even in the NBA. So there’s an opportunity, they say, Listen, my body, my talent, all those kind of things.

“So I think when you talk about all those things there, we have set up a system in our country that we have brought academics and athletics together as an avenue for a player to get to where he wants to get to.

“I understand the D‑league has been formed and people say, Well, you can go to the D‑league, but really in essence the way the system is set up, it’s set up that guys have got to go to school. They got to represent. That’s the best way. Right now, probably the most logical way for these guys to pursue a professional career.

“I think you’ll start to see, probably down the road, some things change. I don’t know what the solutions are, I don’t know what the answers are, but I think certainly a lot more can be done for the student‑athletes.”

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