Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons has joined the symphony of current and former college athletes who are dissatisfied with the NCAA’s mission to separate athletes from the wealth they help create.
According to ESPN, Simmons takes aim at the NCAA in One and Done a Showtime-produced documentary slated to air Friday that covers his rise from Australian high school prospect to the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA draft. In the documentary, Simmons calls the NCAA “fucked up” for imposing its amateurism sham on profitable players and denying them access to their potential personal worth. Simmons joins Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes and UCLA’s Josh Rosen to form the most recent set of high-profile NCAA athletes to speak out against the organization’s exploitative labor practices.
“The NCAA is really f—-ed up,” Simmons said on “One and Done,” a film that will air on Showtime on Friday night. “Everybody’s making money except the players. We’re the ones waking up early as hell to be the best teams and do everything they want us to do and then the players get nothing. They say education, but if I’m there for a year, I can’t get much education.”
Entering college as a predetermined one-and-done player, Simmons needed only to pass his first-semester classes in order to remain academically eligible for the entire 2016 season. Per ESPN, he says he got “B’s and C’s” during the fall semester. Knowing his full-time job would be managing his basketball talents, shoe deals, and social calendar come June, Simmons did not entertain his classes at LSU in the spring, finishing with a sub-2.0 GPA. This in turn became a news story when he was declared ineligible for the Wooden Award. The award, annually given out to college basketball’s best player, results in no direct financial gain for the winner of the award.
When Simmons skipped class during the spring semester, he was benched by head coach Johnny Jones at the start of a February game against Tennessee. Jones’s contract stipulates he is to be paid a bonus of $100,000 when his team’s multi-year APR—a useless measure concocted by the NCAA and exploited by coaches’s agents that is meant to rate team academic success—is equal to or greater than the NCAA-mandated minimum 930, a bonus that was made harder to reach by Simmons’s apathy toward faux partial education.
Simmons addressed the benching in One and Done saying he felt it was unnecessary to go through the motions when he knew he would be in the NBA, not college, in several months.
“[Coach] Jones said, ‘We need to make up a punishment if you miss another class,’” Simmons said. “I missed my next class about preparing for better study habits. I’m going to the NBA next season. Why bull—— if it’s not going to help me?”
Simmons claimed he was offered jewelry, cash, luxury cars, and a house during his two semesters at LSU; he declined all the offers and his sister kept a copy of all his receipts to be sure he avoided the possibility of being hit with NCAA sanctions. Simmons is now rehabbing from a bone fracture in his foot; it’s unclear if he will see the floor for the 76ers this season, which is a shame, because he’s fun as hell to watch.
You can check out the trailer for One and Done here: