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Stan Van Gundy has never been shy of being upfront, frank and outspoken on pretty much every topic imaginable. Put a camera or a microphone in front of the president of basketball operation and head coach of the Detroit Pistons and he’ll never disappoint.
Speaking before the Pistons took on the Hornets on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, Van Gundy went after the NCAA and true to his nature, he didn’t hold back or sugarcoat his thoughts.
“The NCAA is one of the worst organizations — maybe the worst organization — in sports,” Van Gundy, who was the head coach at the University of Wisconsin in the 1994-95 season before moving on to the NBA, told reporters. “They certainly don’t care for the athlete.”
With the college basketball world being rocked by the FBI investigation surrounding corruption and reputed illegal payments made to potential recruits, criticism of the NCAA has become a loud chorus this week.
Van Gundy said, as usual, it’s the student-athletes who are last in line, in terms of being treated fairly by the NCAA.
“And while we’re on it, they should be able to transfer schools every year,” he said. “The one thing I know about the NCAA is the last group of people they are about it — as they call them, ‘the student-athletes’ — which is part of their ability to promote themselves. They don’t care about them at all.
“A coach can leave in football and skip the damn bowl game and just screw the kids he just coached — that’s fine, but if a kid leaves, he’s got to sit out a year? Come on, man.”
Van Gundy’s ire was not only directed at the NCAA, but also the NBA. The one-and-done rule is something he wants to see abolished, going as far as to say racial discrimination is one of the barriers in the path of doing away with it.
“You can turn 18 and go to work anywhere else,” Van Gundy said. “An 18-year-old, if he’s talented enough, can come into (media) and get a job. We’ve got the stories of some of these great tech guys who dropped out of college and gone on and made big money. They’re allowed to do that — but athletes aren’t.
“I think, personally — and now I’m definitely on a soapbox — the people who were against them coming out and made a lot of excuses, but it was racist.”
Van Gundy explained why his feelings on the issue are as strong as they are.
“And the reason I’m going to say that is I’ve never heard anybody go up in arms about letting kids go out and play minor-league baseball or hockey,” he said. “They’ve not making big money and they’re white kids and nobody has a problem.
“But all of a sudden, you’ve got a black kid who wants to come out of high school and make millions — that’s a bad decision?
Van Gundy also took aim at the system that has college players declaring for the draft, but having to pull out beforehand.
“On a straightly fairness issue, I don’t understand why they have to do one year of college,” he said. “I don’t like the whole process. When they’re there, I don’t like this process that they have to declare in and out. You should be able to go into the draft and if you don’t like where you’re picked, go back to school if you want.”
“I don’t understand why, as an industry, basketball or any other professional sport, we’re able to artificially able to to limit somebody’s ability to make money. I don’t get it.
“But bypassing college to go play for $800 a month in minor-league baseball — that’s a fine decision?”