by Kent Sterling
Mark Cuban is really smart and really blunt. That makes him a headache for the people and systems about whom he talks, and the reason Major League Baseball approved the shoddy offer of Tom Ricketts rather than his, but that’s a different story.
Tonight, ESPNDallas.com posted some comments by Cuban about the lack of need for college basketball as a preparatory service for the NBA that are as controversial as they as logical.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has recently made news by recommending that the one-and-done rule be amended to a two-and-done scheme, but Cuban has no interest in stopping there, “The NCAA rules are so hypocritical, there’s absolutely no reason for a kid to go [to college], because he’s not going to class [and] he’s actually not even able to take advantage of all the fun because the first semester he starts playing basketball. So if the goal is just to graduate to the NBA or be an NBA player, go to the D-League.”
For a league with roughly 450 players earning over two-billion each year and another 200 or so in the NBDL, subsidizing a college education as part of playing in the pros would cost owners no more than tip money, and the result would likely be a more salable NBDL product plus an abandonment of the NCAA’s hypocrisy in referring to collegiate short-timers as student-athletes, “You don’t have to pretend. We don’t have to pretend. A major college has to pretend that they’re treating them like a student-athlete, and it’s a big lie and we all know it’s a big lie,” Cuban said.
“At least at most schools, not all. … But we can put more of an emphasis on their education. We can plan it out, have tutors. We can do all kinds of things that the NCAA doesn’t allow schools to do that would really put the individual first.”
No one should be naive enough to believe that Cuban wants to operate the NBDL as a charitable wing of the NBA that is altruistically dedicated to the betterment of very tall and athletic men who would prefer a direct line toward earning money rather than taking classes that are as absolutely meaningless to the betterment of their lives and S100 Sociology was for me at Indiana University.
But if it takes some chump change to placate the parents of 18-year-olds in order to start the process of slurping up some of the vast cash that falls to the NCAA from media deals and major college ticket sales, what the hell.
The question is whether it would be better for kids bound for the NBA to learn some life skills under the tutelage of some mentors, or stuffed into a lecture hall with 300 other bleary eyed adolescents who’ve yet to figure out what they want out of life.
Is it better for everyone to have pros be pros and student-athletes be student-athletes? As always, Cuban makes a lot of sense. He admits he hasn’t thought the whole thing through, but as usual his partial effort is a lot more lucid and to the point than anything else being offered by the self-serving wonks who currently determine policy in a complicated world where no one speaks or acts on behalf of those kids who toil for scholarships that pay for their year in study table purgatory.
“Then you wouldn’t be under the stupidity of the NCAA,” Cuban said. “There’s no reason for the NCAA to exist. None.”
Welcome to the shark tank, Tom Emmert.
[Ed. Note: When Cuban talks about college basketball, it’s not from a place of hate. Much of the money he made from the development and sale of audio.com was driven by his love for Indiana Basketball. He wanted to hear Don Fischer call Indiana games while living in Texas, outside the range of the radio stations carrying the Hoosiers broadcasts. Cuban assumed there were others like him. He was right, and became insanely rich as a result.]