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Breaking Down Jim Boeheim's Rant Against Paying College Players

Jim Boeheim says paying players is idiotic. He then goes on to say so many other things that may or may not be related.


You've been hearing a lot about the argument over whether or not to pay college athletes for their services as the lynchpins of a multi-million-dollar industry. What you haven't heard yet is a fully-operational James Arhur Boeheim on the subject.

Until now. Jimmy B was asked about it at the NY State Associated Press symposium and has the transcript.

It's fair to say you already knew Boeheim was against the idea. He's against most things in general. However his actual rant ends up being the most convoluted defense of the current system possible. Anyway, let's break it down:

(Let the record show that I do think college athletes should be compensated but I also appreciate how impossible the idea of doing that fairly would be)

"That's really the most idiotic suggestion of all time."

Where have I heard that before???

It's really very clear. This is really clear.

You say that now...

"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."

Good news, if your jersey sells in college, you are guarenteed to make over $100M across your pro career. And if the bookstore only sells, like, thirty of your jerseys, well, shut up.

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.

You either go pro and make millions or you become an agent and help others make millions. It's science.

"Our players get a $50,000 education."

They must be getting the s****y version of Syracuse's education cause mine cost a helluva lot more than that.

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.

Fair points here. I'll allow it.

"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."

My needs are need-based, who is helping my need-based needs?

Again, valid point by Boeheim. But, of course, that's only one side of the argument, the "these kids can't afford to live" part. That doesn't solve the "everyone else is making millions off them" part.

"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.

Fair, but don't go overboard, Jim, just keep it...uh-oh...

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.

Suffer you must, Jim. Suffer through it all, you must.

"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."

Shouldn't you trade that salary for the free, $50K education you have access to every year? Honestly, Jim, you should have about 17 Ph.Ds by now.

"When I started the first five years I made zero to coach full-time."

Yeah but adjusting for inflation, $0 in 1973 would be $78K in 2013.

The next five years I made $10,000 to coach full-time. As a head coach, the first year I made $25,000.

Ergo, players shouldn't be paid? What rabbit hole have you taken us down, James?

So I didn't, obviously, those first 11 years I didn't get in this to make money.

Wait for it...

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."

Wait...what? The myth is...true? What just happened?

"The part of that you don't know is almost every player that plays in a major program can play professionally somewhere."

One game in Latvia > Four years at Syracuse

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.

You haven't made it until you're made it in the Ukraine.

Look, I get what Jim is saying. It's not "The NBA or Bust" anymore. That's fair and true and all of that. But it's not what the original question asked. Does anyone even remember the original question?

"To answer your question, I don't believe players should be paid."

We took a long, strange journey but we made it, you guys. We made it back.

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.

On one side of the argument, he's right. You go to college, you get an education and a chance to become a better player and then you get a job. No different than any other college student.

On the other side of the argument, no one was paying $1,000-a-year to watch me take classes or paying $75-a-pop to wear the same shirt I wore and ESPN didn't pay Syracuse millions of dollars to televise my evening plans (which would have been the most depressing TV program of all time). The point is, if you remove all of the specifics and I told you a third party was making millions of dollars off of a person entirely based on what they did and that person saw none of that money, there's a 100% chance you'd tell me that was insane and illegal. know...two sides...

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.

Amazing work here by Jim. First, he says he actually WANTS to pay the players during his discussion about why players shouldn't be payed. Then he says it's not the fault of the Syracuse's and North Carolina's of the world, it's the fault of the small schools. They're the true menace. He comes off sympathetic and on the side of the players DURING A RANT ABOUT HOW PLAYERS DON'T DESERVE TO BE PAID. Bravo, sir.

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.

While I'm sure it's 100% true, and I've seen the Instagram photos to prove it, it's also a bit more blame-tossing. Don't pay the players because they'll just waste it anyway. Boeheim voted for Romney, didn't he?

"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.

So...wait, I'm confused. What does that have to do with anything? I THOUGHT WE WERE BACK ON TOPIC!!!

"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."

THIS is the crux of the argument and I wish Boeheim wouldn't have verbally-barfed for so long to get here. It's ultimately what makes this issue so difficult. How do you decide which athletes get paid? Can you pay some athletes more than others? Do you pay seniors more than freshmen? Do you pay starters more than benchwarmers? It just goes on and on...

Anyway, the point is...Jim Boeheim is against paying players but he'd like to pay players but everyone else is against him and players and their parents wouldn't handle it well anyway and, besides, there's always the Ukraine.