Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, no wilting flower when it comes to criticism of the NBA, is now taking aim at the NCAA.
While the debate continues on blogs and sports talk radio about the latest scandal to rock the University of Miami football program, Van Gundy believes the while set up is a fraud.
"The system is set up for everybody but the kids while pretending to be about the kids," Van Gundy told the Miami Herald. "Athletics and education should be separate. Colleges shouldn't be farm systems. It doesn't make any logical sense. But the schools don't want to be blatantly in the situation of being professional sports even though they already are professional sports. They just want to disguise it, so they hide behind education. But, really, all you want is enough of your athletes to graduate so it looks like that's what you care about. Anyone around sports knows it is all a bunch of bull [expletive].
"I am not calling college coaches or administrators hypocrites. I believe that, in general, they care about the kids and education. But the system is wrong. Being a farm system creates problems that are beyond the control of even the best and most well-meaning administrators of which [UM’s] Donna Shalala would be at the top of my list."
Van Gundy isn't just blowing hot hair; the University of Texas football program made a profit of $68.8 million in its most recent financial disclosure, according to 2010 Department of Education data. The University of Georgia had $52.5 million in profits and the University of Michigan was third with $44.9 million. That doesn't sound very amateur to rational people.
Writer Dan LeBatard points out the stunning fact that Alabama coach Nick Saban, a major defender of the status quo in college sports, earned more than $6 million dollars in 2010, more than all but five coaches in all of professional sports. The Crimson Tide had a profit of $40.7 million thanks to the system Saban loves.
While many have preached about change in college sports, Van Gundy actually has a plan to make things right.
"Let the schools decide whom they enroll and how -- no entrance or eligibility requirements, how much the boosters want to pay them and whether or not they go to class," he says. "There are two rules. You play only four seasons, and the upper age limit is 25. No other rules. Players who are paid must declare their income and pay taxes on it. If they don't and get caught, then they have to deal with the IRS and instead of giving back the Heisman they risk going to jail. This drops the myth about amateurism and education. It allows players to get paid but puts it out in the open. Now people can stop hiding behind their idealism about the purity of college athletics and let you know what the school and alumni truly value. NCAA enforcement is the drug war. We've lost. Let's find a different, more realistic approach."
Van Gundy has a .651 winning percentage over 6-plus seasons as coach of the Heat and Magic -- the 13th best winning percentage in NBA history. He believes the world of college sports should be more like politics.
"Let boosters run amok," Van Gundy says. "You like a guy in politics, you give money to his campaign. It would feel unseemly, and the Stanfords and Dukes would object, but why disguise the mercenary nature of all this? As it is now, if you want to play football or basketball professionally, you have to go to college even if you have no interest in education. So a young athlete gets someone to take the SAT for him. Or he gets papers written for them. They aren't bad people. They don't have any less integrity than anyone else. They are just caught in a ridiculous system they have to navigate to be able to play and enhance their career opportunities. You are putting them in a position to have to fake school."
The Orlando Magic coach actually began his career as a college head coach before heading to the pro level. He coached at the University of Wisconsin, Castleton State College in Virginia, and UMass. In eight years as a college head coach, Van Gundy had a record of 135-92 (.595)
Van Gundy better keep winning games in the NBA, though. He'll likely never get the opportunity to coach again at the college level after this award-winning rant.