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Mark Emmert’s comments on LiAngelo Ball show how clueless the NCAA is

The head of the NCAA again looked out of touch when discussing LiAngelo Ball.

NCAA Basketball: UCLA Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Emmert knows the NCAA is broken. He finally admitted as much last month when discussing the impact of the FBI’s wide-ranging probe into corruption in college basketball. But just when it seems like the head of the NCAA might be turning a corner, Emmert again revealed how out of touch he is with modern athletics.

After LiAngelo Ball was pulled out of UCLA by his father, LaVar, earlier this week to prepare for the NBA draft and explore pro options overseas, Emmert doubled down on a long-held NCAA stance: college is no place to prepare yourself to be a professional.

A full transcript of the quote can be found here.

The problem here is that college is the exact place to prepare yourself to be a professional. This is true if you’re an aspiring accountant or engineer or journalist or basketball player.

It’s no surprise the NCAA stands in opposition to LaVar Ball’s schemes. The NCAA has made a fortune out of exploiting athletes. Ball flipped that script on its head: exploiting the NCAA for its massive marketing ability and then profiting himself.

It’s impossible to pay attention to college sports lately without noticing all the money floating around. There are tens of millions of dollars being spent on buyouts, bonuses, and search firms every year. Meanwhile, the athletes get a free education and an invitation for a public shaming should have the audacity to acknowledge they’d some day like to earn a living.

It’s no secret the NCAA wants players to stay in school longer. The NBA would, too. It helps build audience and name recognition and makes college basketball a superior product. Theoretically, it helps NBA teams avoid mistakes in the draft by giving them more information about a player. At a certain point, though, the NCAA needs to realize pro aspirations are nothing to get indignant about. In that sense, Emmert’s comments are asinine.

What’s ironic is that LiAngelo Ball is the player at the center of this. He was barely a top-250 recruit in his class and is not considered an NBA prospect by any stretch. What he does have is a brand — a famous and potentially profitable one — and that’s what scares the NCAA establishment.