After the Dartmouth NLRB ruling, allowing players to form a union, Rick Pitino had a lot to say, and he almost gets it right:
“Do away with letters of intent, make athletes sign a [two-year] binding contract, no different than professional athletes — which they are,” Pitino tweeted. “With that, the [NIL] collective puts together their NIL contract based on the cap. Obviously, a lot has to go into this. I believe the NCAA should be taken out of the equation and the commissioners put into it as the NCAA loses more cases than the defense lawyers on ‘Law & Order.'”
First, he is right about players being professional athletes. They are. Colleges have just gotten away without paying them for their labor.
He’s also right that the NCAA is on its deathbed. It should disappear, and I think the SEC/BigTen situation will kill it. There’s no reason those two conferences, making as much money as they do for football, will limit themselves to remain ruled by the NCAA. That break is coming.
I think he’s wrong about NIL being part of the salary cap. If they are professional athletes, then they get a salary from the club. What they make in endorsements and other endeavors is unlimited. Get the collectives and everything else out of it. You sign a two-year contract to play at St. John’s, and St. John’s pays you an “x” salary. What you make from other sources is what you make from other sources. Will that mean a kid playing at Duke gets a lot more endorsement money than a kid playing at Wichita State? Yes, just like a pro playing in NY or LA makes more than the average player in Oklahoma, Cleveland, etc. It’s the way professional athletics works, so if you want college basketball to be run like a professional league, you live with it.
The other thing that I know he will never say, that no one in college basketball will say, is what does college have to do with any of this? You’ve got a salary cap. You’ve got player contracts. You’re a minor league for the NBA. Why can’t a current minor league team opt to compete in your division with colleges? What’s the difference between what Rick described and the developmental league? The only difference is one is affiliated with a college. Basketball players are now different than students, so why do we insist they be students? Why do we insist on athletes attending classes at St. John’s rather than being a team of 18-19-year-olds from Rucker with a financial backer paying them?
What significant difference exists between them?