Duke basketball: AD’s concerns imply Coach K should go unpaid

Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Duke basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

If unequal pay is a concern, why do Duke basketball coaches earn paychecks?

Former Duke basketball player Jay Bilas lit into the athletic director of the Blue Devils, Kevin White, for his “tone-deaf” statement on Tuesday that warns against the NCAA’s plan to allow student-athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) beginning in the 2021-22 academic year.

But the current ESPN analyst only indirectly touched on the most glaring hypocrisy in White’s logic: Mike Krzyzewski‘s salary of almost $10 million, not to mention the more than $1.5 million that White himself rakes in, while student-athletes continue to go without a real paycheck.

Before pointing out the likely reasons for the Duke AD’s apparent unease, let’s first look at the two-part admonishment that Bilas tweeted in response:

Here’s the remainder of the mockery from Bilas that White surely must have seen coming:

OK, we can skip right over White’s first of three paragraphs, for it comes across as self-aggrandizing, pious gobbledygook. As for the beginning of the second paragraph, let’s just say that bringing up the stance of his North Carolina counterpart, Bubba Cunningham, to justify his own worries is, well, odd — not exactly the ideal way to seek favor among the average Duke basketball supporter.

Moving on, White notes the difficulty of adapting to the inevitable NIL ruling. To me, this comes across as if he is perturbed by the mere thought of having to do essentially what he gets paid millions to do: work hard to keep up with changing times.

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For instance, in regards to apparel companies trying to redirect money from the team as a whole to the most popular players, it would simply be White’s duty to devise creative counterattacks. That said, if he signs over his salary to me, then I’d gladly provide a sensible solution or two; as it is, he’s essentially crying out to the public, suggesting he needs volunteered ideas to make his seven-figure gig less taxing.

Of course, the insincerity of White’s proposed concerns is most evident in one question: “How will [the NIL ruling] affect the locker room in which the vast majority of student-athletes go uncompensated?” Hmm, just a thought, but wouldn’t the unfairness be far less blinding than the megamillions now going to the Duke basketball staff each year while all student-athletes don’t even enjoy the right to reap a single cent of taxable income from their crafts?

The “concern” disregards the maturity of Duke basketball players and others

Couldn’t it be that most of those student-athletes who wouldn’t earn much will actually act more like grownups than middle-schoolers? Might the bulk of them simply realize they must put forth more time and energy into building upon their own skills and social media presence rather than whine about the unfairness of having an uber-popular teammate like a Zion Williamson?

As for the closing paragraph, White’s last two sentences swipe all credibility from any issues he puts forth in the previous two sentences: “These are legitimate issues raised by the athletes themselves. This is their voice; it should be heard.”

Bilas is right: White’s noninclusive above assertions obviously call for a couple of corrections. First, “the athletes” should read as “some athletes”; no, scratch that, for “a few athletes” might be an even better choice in light of the fact such sentiments sure are difficult to find. Likewise, “their voice” should read as “the only voice worth mentioning right now because a chunk of the endorsement dollars trickling to AD’s, coaches, and the likes is suddenly in serious jeopardy.”

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