Jim Boeheim Goes Off on Paying Players
October 2nd, 2013| by Lost Lettermen
Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim is known for sharing his unfiltered opinion and going off on long rants.
On Wednesday afternoon, he did both again when asked about paying college athletes at a symposium in Syracuse. Brace yourselves, because Boeheim’s lengthy thoughts were filibuster-worthy:
“That’s really the most idiotic suggestion of all time. Jay Bilas has pushed it a little bit. And I respect Jay a lot. I think you have to understand something. It’s really very clear. This is really clear.
“I laughed all the time at Chris Webber, who said he didn’t get any money at Michigan because they sold his uniform and the school got all this money and he didn’t get a penny. He didn’t then say that because of the platform he had at Michigan where he made All-American and they went to the Final Four and that he ended up signing a pro contract and ended up making over $100 million playing basketball. Which is what the great players do, and those are the uniforms that sell in college.
“So he didn’t get his $30,000 or $40,000. Well he did, but not by legal means. That’s proven, that’s not something I’m speculating on. But he got his money. Juwan Howard played 20 years in the NBA, also on that Michigan team. Made over $100 million. There’s a guy named Rob Pelinka on that team, who got his scholarship, his full scholarship, became an agent, is Kobe Bryant’s agent, made a lot of money. But he got his $50,000 education for free.
“Our players get a $50,000 education. Some of them use Syracuse to develop their game, get the publicity they need, become a first-round pick and make money from basketball. Some of them like me get the scholarship, get the grades, get their education, get the chance to play basketball and then get to start life without any debt.
“One point that’s crucial here that people don’t know. Every one of my kids that has a need-based need gets a full scholarship. If he has need he gets a Pell Grant. They get a $6,000 or $7,000 Pell Grant, plus a scholarship.
“People say that they should be getting compensated because there’s 30,000 people in the Dome. That money all goes to pay for basketball, pays for field hockey, pays for volleyball, pays for soccer. We make no money at Syracuse University in the athletic department. Zero. We’re lucky if we break even at the end of the year. The only reason we break even is because we’re subsidized in some way for scholarships and we use fund raisers. Our basketball program might make 12 or 14 million (dollars) but it all goes to pay for the other sports. The women’s basketball program has the same budget I have. Exact same budget. So who pays for that? We do. Who pays for men’s lacrosse? They pay for some of their own. Who pays for track and field? We do. So all that money that we make, it’s not coming to basketball.
“A lot of you said, ‘Well, coaches make a lot of money.’ Yeah coaches make a lot of money. It’s a big business. It’s a $16 million business for Syracuse University and college basketball. Am I going to be compensated? Yeah, sure I am. When I started the first five years I made zero to coach full-time. The next five years I made $10,000 to coach full-time. As a head coach, the first year I made $25,000. So I didn’t, obviously, those first 11 years I didn’t get in this to make money. There was no TV then. Now everything’s on TV. There was no real NCAA Tournament, no big deal. Now it’s everything. So everything is escalated. There’s no question about that. There’s so much money to go around.
”… The other thing about players, some guys aren’t (future NBA players), maybe they’re just good college players. So they get their education and they get an opportunity to get out in the world and some of them play some play in Europe and some play in the developmental league.
“One of the myths is that one out of every 100 players in college play in the NBA. That’s true. The part of that you don’t know is almost every player that plays in a major program can play professionally somewhere. There’s 1,200 players playing professionally in Europe alone. In Europe alone, 1,200 players. China, huge market. Philippines. South America. Puerto Rico. All the former eastern-block countries. I have a kid playing in the Ukraine. I have a kid playing in Lithuania. Two kids are playing in Israel. So there’s basketball for everybody that’s good, pretty good. At some point in time it is over and those guys go out in the world.
“To answer your question, I don’t believe players should be paid. I think they’re getting a tremendous opportunity. If they’re really good, they get to develop. They get the opportunity to play in the NBA. They make a lot of money or they play in Europe and make a good amount of money. And if they’re not quite that good then they get free college education. And the kids that have need get a Pell Grant. We tried last year to push through $150 a month stipend. We tried to push that through. The problem with the NCAA is 350 schools voted, 250 of them have no big-time programs. So we get the same vote as the few schools that have big budgets. We wanted to help our athletes. We can afford to pay them $150. Each one of those kids. Some of those schools at the bottom can’t. They voted the legislation down. This has caused a little bit of a problem within the NCAA between the big schools and the small schools. The big schools are paying the bills. The small schools can veto the legislation that the big schools want. It’s a bad system. It’s a broken system that needs to be fixed. It will be fixed. It will be changed some day.
“We found, this is sad but true, a kid gets a Pell grant. They get a check for $6,000. In a month it’s gone. This is bad management, but this is what we go to college to learn. They buy sneakers. Whatever it is they get. We give them all the sneakers they want. Our kids get six, seven, eight pairs of shoes a year. They buy six, seven, eight pairs of shoes per year on average.
“The other thing about kids when they come from a home, this is a point that people never talk about. This young man, his parents have been feeding him, taking him places, take him to the movies, buying him stuff for 17 years. The 18th year they don’t have to spend a penny on that young man. Not food, not really anything. So where is all that money that they used all those years? Why can’t they send a couple hundred bucks? And they do. Parents do. People just crying out for a cause.
“I just don’t buy into it. I’m not against kids getting money. But the problem is you give the 12 basketball players $150, now you gotta give the field hockey players. So now you’re talking 150 athletes. One-hundred fifty times $150 times 8. That’s a lot of money.”
But, coach, how do you really feel?