LBbron James is always brutally honest and did not mince words when asked about the NCAA this week, ESPN reports.
“I don’t know if there’s any fixing the NCAA,"James told reporters after practicing with the Cleveland Caveliers. "I don’t think there is … it’s what’s been going on for many, many, many, many years. I don’t know how you can fix it. I don’t see how you can fix it.”
James spoke in reference to the controversy surrounding students playing for the NCAA in exchange for academic scholarships. The scholarships are usually worth no more than $200,000; the organization and its participating schools make billions on student athletes.
The organization recently made headlines for arguing that the 13th Amendment (which explains when and where slavery is still allowed) protects it from having to pay its athletes.
James never played with the collegiate league, opting to go into the NBA after graduating from high school in 2003. He claims Division I schools approached him before he decided to skip college, but the fact that they don't pay their athletes kept him from giving them any serious consideration.
“Me and my mom was poor, I'll tell you that, and they expected me to step foot on a college campus and not to go to the NBA? We weren't going to be poor for long, I'll tell you that. That's a fact,” he said.
After admitting that he might be missing some of the nuances of the situation given “I've never been a part of it, so I don't know all the ins and outs about it,” James addressed the highly-debated issue of NCAA players not being compensated for their talent directly.
“I do know what five-star athletes bring to a campus, both in basketball and football. I know how much these college coaches get paid. I know how much these colleges are gaining off these kids,” he said. “I've always heard the narrative that they get a free education, but you guys are not bringing me on campus to get an education, you guys are bringing me on it to help you get to a Final Four or to a national championship, so it's just a weird thing."
James’ two sons, 13-year-old LeBron Jr. and 10-year-old Bryce, play basketball, and they’re already attracting attention for their skills. He admitted that a future in the NCCA is a possibility for his sons.
“I love watching March Madness. I think that's incredible,” he said. “I'm not a fan of how the kids don't benefit from none of this, so it's kind of a fine line and I've got a couple boys that could be headed in that direction, so there's going to be some decisions that we as a family have to make.”
James knew his comments would attract attention but he is unapologetic about his stance.
“We have to figure that out, but kids getting paid is nothing new under the sun. You all seen 'Blue Chips?' It's a real movie, seriously. ... The NCAA is corrupt, we know that. Sorry, it's going to make headlines, but it's corrupt,” he said.
Critiques weren’t the only thing he had to offer. James suggested the NBA’s G League (a league for the development of new talent) would be a good alternative for kids that don’t want to play in the NCAA.
“We have to shore up our G League, continue to expand our G League," James said. "I just looked at it like the farm league, like in baseball. Or you look at pros overseas; some of those guys get signed at 14, but they get put into this farm system where they're able to grow and be around other professionals for three or four years. Then, when they're ready, they hit the national team, or when they're ready, they become a pro. So I think us, we have to kind of really figure that out, how we can do that."