Ben Simmons is not holding back when it comes to calling out the NCAA.
If you remember, the runaway Rookie of the Year favorite called the NCAA “really fucked up” in a Showtime documentary. Now, in an interview with Uninterrupted, he’s calling it a “dirty business.” Here’s the transcription (via Bleacher Report’s Tyler Conway):
“It’s a dirty business… You have to put up with it, but at the same time it taught me a lot,” Simmons said. “I have an image and people use it, but now I have the opportunity to control that, what I do and who I work with. It helped me, but at the same time I felt it was very sneaky.” . . .
“I think I would have learned a lot more by being around professional athletes,” Simmons said. “Looking at it now, I don’t even know what I learned financially or just being a person at LSU. I think I’ve learned a lot more with this last year being in Philly and being a pro, than I did at LSU.”
Simmons isn’t wrong. The NCAA is exploitive. It capitalizes on the likeness of its athletes, without allowing said persons to do the same, under the guise that a full scholarship and some other benefits are adequate compensation. It’s not.
Some people are uncomfortable with the idea of paying college athletes. I’ll never understand “They should just be thankful to go to school for free” slant. They’re not going for free. They’re working while they’re there. All the shady under-the-table stuff aside, these kids are being exploited. They should be paid. Or an account should be set up that pays them once they’re 22, or have their diploma, or leave, or something.
Clearly, I don’t have the answer. Nor do I know how a pay-per-player system would work at the NCAA level. And yes, giving teenagers a ton of money does seem like a dangerous concept. But it’s the same deal in the NBA, only that payday comes a year later in many cases. The Association has constructs in place that help educate players on finances and all that good stuff. Nothing is stopping the NCAA from doing the same now, even before it’s actually paying athletes.