Men's Basketball

Boycott the Final Four? Some ESPN analysts arguing for players to do just that.

Syracuse forward Tyler Roberson (21) and North Carolina forward Brice Johnson (11) tipped the ball off during the 2016 NCAA Final Four in Houston.
Syracuse forward Tyler Roberson (21) and North Carolina forward Brice Johnson (11) tipped the ball off during the 2016 NCAA Final Four in Houston. AP

In the wake of the FBI investigation into alleged college basketball corruption and allegations last week that a head coach was caught talking about securing a $100,000 payment for a prized recruit, former NCAA players who are currently basketball analysts for ESPN have come out in favor of players boycotting the NCAA Tournament.

On Monday’s “Jalen & Jacoby” show on ESPN, Jalen Rose, the former Michigan Fab Five player, said players should boycott the tournament.

“In the climate of so many things that are changing, so many discussions that have now come to the forefront that have been closeted for so long — I wish NCAA players would exercise that power by boycotting the NCAA Tournament,” Rose said.

On Wednesday, “ESPN GameDay” analyst Jay Williams, a former Duke player, said in a video post on Twitter that players should go a step further than just boycotting a tournament game.

“Wouldn’t be crazy if we saw players just not boycott a game in the NCAA Tournament, but boycott the Final Four?” Williams asked rhetorically. “Imagine how quickly the NCAA would recognize that’s its just not only a business for themselves, but also a business for the athletes, as well. That’s how you make change.”

Both players took issue with the billions of dollars being exchanged by the NCAA and its schools.

“They’re basically running an organization like a cartel. It’s indentured servitude what we’re seeing take place,” Rose said in a follow-up interview on “SportsCenter” on Tuesday. “A player can’t make money off of their own likeness. They can’t sign an autograph. As a scholarship athlete, you’re not allowed to have a job. Did you know the NCAA is a nonprofit organization? It’s actually a 501c3. Picture that for an organization that makes multi-billions of dollars off the backs of players and athletes.”

Williams likened the players’ situation to that of the U.S. Women’s National Team in soccer. Players there demanded to be paid on a basis equitable to the market value they were creating.

“You can essentially equate a scholarship to the salary cap of the NBA,” Williams said. “ They’re both business. … As gross revenue increases, guess what happens in the NBA? The salary cap rises. But as gross revenue increases within collegiate sports, in particular, college basketball, the scholarship stays absolutely the same. That’s a problem.”

In Rose’s “SportsCenter” interview, he argued the same point.

“It is a great opportunity to play collegiate sports. It was one of the best times in my life, but at some point we have to realize there are too many dollars changing hands. The players must be involved with these transactions,” Rose said.

One opposing voice against such calls was fellow ESPN analyst Dan Dakich, who also runs his own radio call-in show in Indiana markets and will be the color commentator on Wednesday night’s game between Mississippi and Kentucky.

Dakich voiced his objections on Twitter, as well, noting that the market value Rose and Williams were talking about applies to probably less than 1 percent of players.

“So all the other 12 guys on scholarship on an NCAA team should “boycott the NCAA Tournament “ because the one guy on the team that’s 1 and done can’t get a car or promote a fast food spot w their likeness..try running that by a team.... idiotic,” Dakich tweeted.

Dakich argued the “one and done” rule should be abolished, noting it’s “Ridiculous that a talented kid can’t go to the NBA!”