The NCAA's collapse is inevitable, and unless it makes some serious changes, it will soon cease to exist.
That's the view of John Calipari, one of the most controversial and high-profile college coaches of our era. In a forthcoming book, Calipari, whose Kentucky Wildcats finished as surprise runners-up to UConn in the NCAA tournament, likens the collegiate governing body to the crumbling Soviet Union in its final days.
"The situation reminds me a little of the Soviet Union in its last years," Calipari writes, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. "It was still powerful. It could still hurt you. But you could see it crumbling, and it was just a matter of time before it either changed or ceased to exist."
The 55-year-old head coach, who has taken his teams to three Final Fours (five if you count the two that were vacated), presents a 13-point plan for improving the NCAA. His suggestions include doling out player stipends of $3,000 to $5,000, allowing athletes to accept loans up to $50,000 against future earnings and letting athletes have one round-trip flight home every year.
Calipari also suggests that if a coach leaves a school, players should be able to transfer without having to sit out a season.
Two of Calipari's former schools -- UMass and Memphis -- have had Final Four appearances vacated because of NCAA transgressions. Calipari, who was not personally implicated in either case, says he has tried to work with the NCAA to improve the system but has been turned away because of his reputation.
"I think we could have gotten somewhere with me as the point man, but the NCAA was not interested in my help," Calipari writes. "The message I got, between the lines, was, 'No, not you. Not Calipari. We don't want him involved.'"
Calipari's book, "Players First: Coaching From the Inside Out" is set to be published April 15. The timing seems ripe, as the discussion surrounding college athletes' rights has grown deafening in recent weeks. An NLRB regional director ruled last month that Northwestern's scholarship football players should have the right to unionize, while an antitrust lawsuit brought by former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon against the NCAA is scheduled for a June trial.
Shabazz Napier, the UConn standout who led his Huskies to the national title this week, recently said he sometimes goes to bed "starving" because he can't afford food.
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