There has been no dearth of outcry against the NCAA recently with athletes and media alike criticizing the billion-dollar organization for its practice of profiting off of unpaid athletes.
But few have come in as hot as TNT analyst and former UNC guard Kenny Smith, who will work again as part of Turner’s studio coverage of the NCAA Tournament this year.
He spoke at the NCAA Tournament media day and blasted the “predatorial” practice of the NCAA’s pursuit of young athletes.
“The rules are creating the predatorial environment,” Smith told reporters. “If that was anything other than sport, if it was, people would have been locked up. But because it’s sport, it took them, it’s taking longer. If it was anything other than sport, where 50-year-old men were preying on 17-year-olds — come on.”
Whoa, that’s fire. And probably not a message the NCAA is stoked about hearing from one of the faces of its marquee event for the next three weeks.
But it’s something the NCAA has invited, both in its greed and stubbornness to evolve how it approaches student-athletes along with partnering with a very outspoken “Inside the NBA” crew that generally sees Smith as the reserved voice.
Charles Barkley apparently wasn’t with Smith at the media event, but we would have loved to hear his reaction to Smith’s hot take.
But Smith wasn’t done. He continued to lobby for NCAA athletes to unionize, a topic the NCAA has officially broached in draconian fashion before.
“It’s basically taxation without representation because they’re making rules for a 17-year-old coming in, and he’s not represented there by anyone,” Smith said of the NCAA.
“There’s no representation. That’s why the NBA Players Association was formed, players unions were formed. That’s why those unions were formed — to have representation before you make rules for me that I have to abide by. How can I participate and how can it be fair if there’s no representation? So whatever rules, I think they said there’s 4,600 rules in the NCAA guideline book, and none of them were represented by those kids.”
The NCAA has always invited criticism, but nothing like the fire it’s facing now as the spotlight readies to shine its brightest. With the FBI probing allegations of rampant corruption, athletes feeling more empowered than ever and a general social environment fed up with abuse of power, Smith’s will not be the last prominent voice we hear taking on the NCAA this March.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• NFL star explains how taxes can make athletes go ‘broke’
• Peyton Manning ditches his 31 Papa John’s franchises
• Ohtani’s response to Kershaw’s filth? Laughter
• Is Colorado State on the verge of a historic hire?