Knight Commission Aims to Reform NCAA’s ‘Prison’ System

Kylia Carter, mother of Duke University freshman basketball player Wendell Carter, speaks with reporters after a May 7 panel discussion on college basketball during the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics' spring meeting at the Newseum in D.C. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
Kylia Carter, mother of Duke University freshman basketball player Wendell Carter, speaks with reporters after a May 7 panel discussion on college basketball during the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics' spring meeting at the Newseum in D.C. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

College basketball might have allowed Kylia Carter to attend the University of Mississippi, travel around the country and obtain a degree in business and finance years ago, but she compared today’s NCAA system to “slavery and the prison system.”

“The talent is being purchased, but the talented are not receiving any of the benefit,” Carter said Monday during the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics’ annual spring meeting at the Newseum in northwest D.C. “They are not recruiting them because they will [excel] academically.”

Carter joined a six-person panel to discuss recommendations made by the NCAA’s Commission on College Basketball. Led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the commission aims to promote reforms in college athletics, particularly for basketball.

Carter’s son, Wendell, declared for the NBA draft on his 19th birthday last month after playing one year at Duke University. He received All-ACC second-team honors and ranked second all-time among Duke freshmen in rebounds and blocked shots.

Though Carter appreciated the college experience her son received at Duke, her family was named in an FBI investigation of NCAA infractions.

To help other parents, Carter and her husband, who played college basketball and professionally overseas, established “Educate2Elevate,” a program that seeks to help parents and their children navigate the scholarship process, understand the landscape of college athletics and possibly pursue careers in professional sports.

“I want [students] to go [to college], but I want them to go for two years,” she said. “Why can’t they go to college and get a two-year certificate in this professional sport that they are pursuing, if they are that talented, so that they are aware and educated on the business of the sport that they want to [play]?”

As for the college basketball commission report released April 25, recommendations include:

• eliminating the NBA’s one-and-done rule that requires players to stay in college for at least one year;

• allowing students to remain in school if he/she hasn’t signed a professional contract;

• imposing harsher penalties for schools and coaches that cheat; and

• requesting apparel companies become more transparent about relationships with schools, coaches and agents regarding non-basketball activities and events.

The report also highlighted college athletes who received full scholarships — ranging between nearly $14,000 to $71,600 for in-state students and from $18,00 to $71,600 for out-of-state. When adding academic support, meals, travel, trainers and for those who received a degree, the report states those benefits average lifetime earnings of $1 million.

Jay Bilas, a former college basketball player at Duke University and current ESPN college basketball analyst, agreed with some of the report’s recommendations but said it still missed the aspect of money and commercialization in the sport.

“I thought amateurism should’ve been thoroughly examined, not just accepted,” he said. “Nobody undervalues an education. It’s just that the athletes are worth far more.”

Former NBA great and onetime Naval Academy standout David Robinson said college offer advantages for young adults.

“For the vast majority of those athletes that are going the college route, that opens up opportunities that are far beyond basketball,” said Robinson, who served on the basketball commission. “We believe as a commission in options and wanted to leave as many options open as we could.”

The Knight Commission also released recommendations after its spring meeting that agreed with some of the Rice report, but included other measures such as adding six independent directors to the 24-member Division I board of directors, adopting new regulations for college employees to disclose financial records from shoe, equipment and apparel companies, and developing professional standards for coaches “for their roles as educators and leaders in the development of student-athletes.”

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About William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer 512 Articles
I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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