Mark Cuban to Dumb Jocks: Drop Out for the D-League

Mark Cuban made his money broadcasting NCAA games over the internet. Now he wants to put the 109-year-old entity out of business. 

The Dallas Mavericks owner advises young basketball players using higher education as a stepping-stone to the pros to skip college. “I think what will end up happening—and this is my opinion, not that of the league—is if the colleges don’t change from the one-and-done, we’ll go after the one,” Cuban predicted. “The NCAA rules are so hypocritical. There’s absolutely no reason for a kid to go [to college], because he’s not going to class. He’s actually not even able to take advantage of all the fun because the first semester he starts playing basketball. So if the goal is just to graduate to the NBA or be an NBA player, go to the D-League.”

The D-League consists of seventeen teams. NBA success stories coming out of the minor league include Jeremy Lin and Brandon Bass. The Texas Legends, the D-League team affiliated with the Dallas Mavericks, is owned by Donnie Nelson, the Mavericks’ general manager and president of basketball operations.

Cuban’s remarks came in a freewheeling discussion with ESPN Dallas’s Tim MacMahon. Given the NBA’s age restrictions limiting the league to nineteen-year-olds a year removed from high school, star players can no longer take the senior-prom-to-rookie-season path of Moses Malone, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Garnett. The outspoken owner believes the NBA’s Development League remains a better option—for both the colleges and players—for many college players uninterested in education.

“We can get rid of all the hypocrisy and improve the education,” Cuban told MacMahon. “If the whole plan is just to go to college for one year maybe or just the first semester, that’s not a student-athlete. That’s ridiculous. You don’t have to pretend. We don’t have to pretend. A major college has to pretend that they’re treating them like a student-athlete, and it’s a big lie and we all know it’s a big lie.”

The University of North Carolina, for instance, played host to phantom courses taken by basketball and football players that never actually met. The NCAA investigated but found no rule breaking. The local district attorney, however, found evidence of fraud and indicted the professor. Is this what Cuban means by hypocrisy surrounding student-athletes?

Cuban’s remarks don’t address the many players using college as a springboard to the NBA who never get the needed bounce to make it in the pros but nevertheless earn a diploma in the process. Wouldn’t athletes who discover they’re also students lose out by skipping college for a stint in the D-League?

Cuban’s interview suggests he thinks otherwise. “Then you wouldn’t be under the stupidity of the NCAA,” Cuban explained. “There’s no reason for the NCAA to exist. None.”


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