“I get sick and tired of people telling these young kids getting a free education is nothing. That’s total BS in my opinion. The NCAA got some issues and they’re not perfect, but to tell kids — especially young black kids — that getting a free education is nothing is ridiculous and stupid.” — NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, TBS, March 20, 2021

This morning the exact cumulative amount of student debt on the books is $1.72 trillion or an average of $38,663 per capita (Source: U.S. National Debt Clock).

Would any of these deeply indebted concur that a free university/college education, certification and experience is irrelevant (i.e., BA, BS, MA, MS, MBA , Ph.D, MD)? If that was the case then why would they incur this monumental debt, let alone the countless hours of studying, writing papers, taking exams and making presentations?

The Genesis of this free college amounts to absolutely nothing comes largely from proponents of unionizing student athletes, and those advocating paying them a salary and benefits for playing football or men’s basketball at major universities (e.g., Power Five Conferences).

The vast majority of these schools sell Nike, Adidas or Under Armour jerseys with the names, images and likenesses (NIL) of prominent players. As a three-decade football season ticket holder at Oregon’s Autzen Stadium, Almost DailyBrett knows the school for years marketed and sold replicas of jerseys worn by Joey Harrington, LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner, Marcus Mariota, Justin Herbert and most recently Sabrina Ionescu of the women’s basketball team.

Is paying these particular players and/or compensating everyone on a team the answer to the NIL issue? Nope.

How about simply banning universities from using the names, images and likenesses of its student athletes? Some how, some way university athletic departments will figure out how to make ends meet.

There were days when universities only sold sweat shirts, ball caps and pennants with the school’s name, colors and crest to alums, students, faculty, fans and friends. Growing up in the Los Angeles area, your author wore out more than his fair share of USC sweat shirts, hats and pennants on the bedroom wall.

(Cambridge, MA Nov. 20, 2004) – 121st Harvard-Yale football game at Harvard University. Harvard won 35-3. Dottie Balkema and Milt Minkema display their divided loyalties before The Game. Dottie’s grandson Robert Balkema ’06 plays linebacker for the Crimson, while Milt’s son is a professor at Yale. Staff photo Jon Chase/Harvard University News Office

To Almost DailyBrett the name, image and likeness question is a side-issue. The real question is the value of a free education (including out-of-state tuition or private school costs) to those on athletic scholarships.

According to the strict reading of the word scholarship, the recipient is urged to matriculate up the academic ladder. Each scholar should learn every day on the way to attaining an undergraduate or advanced degree. Does an undergraduate or graduate degree have value when it comes to competing in the Buy Low Sell High game of life?

You bet ya.

Let’s Ask ‘The Round Mound Of Rebound

“I do this little science experiment when I speak at schools. Let’s say I’m at a white school. I ask how many kids want to play pro sports. Less than 10 percent raised their hand. They say they want to be doctors, lawyers, engineers. But when I speak at predominantly black schools 90 percent of kids want to play sports.” — Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley graduated from Auburn University with a degree in education in 1986. Everyone remembers his long NBA career with the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets. Today, he is a basketball analyst with Turner Sports, but his academic degree has deep meaning.

“There are a couple that say they want to be doctors which makes me really proud. Our kids are brainwashed if they think they can only play sports or be entertainers. You gotta a better chance to be a doctor or a lawyer than playing in the NBA. There are 400 players in the NBA. What are the chances you are going to be one of the 400 players in the world? I’m not trying to bash their dreams, I wish everybody can do it, but you also have to be realistic. You are not going to play in the NBA; who are we kidding?” — Charles Barkley

Besides having better odds in attaining a high-paying career, the recipients of college degrees actually live longer. According to The Economist, university graduates live to nearly 85-years-young as the norm. Those without a degree on the average, don’t even make it to their 80s.

Did someone suggest that a free college education is nothing?

One thing is absolutely certain: Sir Charles does not concur.