Have you ever worked for a boss that did something so stupid that it made you wonder how they got that job in the first place?
Well, that’s probably how Coach K feels right now. And I say that as a 20-year Duke basketball fan.
On Tuesday, Duke Athletic Director Kevin White released a statement that explained why he believes the potential abuses that could occur due to player compensation and the name, image, and likeness (NIL) legislation could create “unfair recruiting advantages.”
Coach K’s boss actually said this.
“Along with my colleague and friend (Athletic Director) Bubba Cunningham, of the University of North Carolina, I am concerned about potential complications attendant upon the actual implications of NIL legislation,” said White. “How will it impact recruiting? Will it create an open marketplace in which institutions solicit businesses or boosters to offer ever-escalating endorsement deals to a star high school quarterback or point guard? Will resources from equipment, apparel, and shoe companies be redirected to a relatively few individuals rather than being shared equally among the lesser known, but no less valuable, Olympic sports?”
ESPN college basketball analyst, and former Duke basketball star and assistant coach, Jay Bilas called the statement “stunning in its tone deafness.” While The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie focused on the racial undertones.“It’s such a blatant example of an organization saying it wants to be a part of the solution, but its actions saying opposite,” Vecenie tweeted. “NCAA says it wants to be at the forefront of change? How about allowing the (largely black) athletes to make $ with the (largely white) administrations.”
But the most asinine component to this isn’t that Duke greatly benefits from the recruiting advantages they get just from being “Duke,” but that the school has been actively working in favor of the NIL movement.
According to a report from ESPN, Duke, North Carolina, and Kentucky have all worked with a consulting firm called INFLCR that would set them up to capitalize on NIL rules when it comes to recruiting.
“It’s fun to play on a big stage, but there are financial implications to choosing a Duke versus another place,” David Bradley, the creative director for Duke men’s basketball, told ESPN.
In a recent case study, the firm found that Duke basketball players could have made up to $1.3 million through branded posts on their social media accounts last season if the NIL rules were in place. Former Duke swingman Cassius Stanley could have made more than $400,000 in his lone freshmen year.
Right now, Zion Williamson is in the middle of an ugly legal battle to determine if he received improper benefits from Nike, Adidas, and Duke, to influence his decision to attend the school.
It also can’t be ignored that Duke’s basketball program received a monumental recruiting advantage from Coach K’s 10-year stint as the head coach of Team USA.
“We need to stay current with what’s happening,” Coach K said during the ACC’s Media Day last fall about NIL legislation. “I’m glad it was passed because it pushes the envelope, it pushes the issue. We’ve had our head in the sand a lot for college. We’re not good game planners for the future. We’re reactionary. We don’t set the pace.”
The art of recruiting has always, and will always, be about the haves and the have-nots. Location, playing time, tradition, legacy, coaching, facilities, shoe contracts, enrollment, and television deals are all things that have to be considered when a prospect is determining which school to attend.
Duke has things that other schools don’t, but that doesn’t mean that they’re for everyone. Different strokes for different folks, as they say.
But on Tuesday, the man that runs the athletic department at one of the most glamorized and successful schools on the planet released a statement about how he feels that the potential compensation of the student-athletes that do the work that boosts these institutions “of higher education” could create a buyer’s market, potentially affecting the basketball program’s recruiting monopoly on the sport.
This is why people hate Duke.