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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / December 11.
  • LeBron’s film company releasing documentary ripping ‘exploitative’ NCAA; student-athletes from Kentucky, Rutgers, Illinois, Baylor are featured

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    The HBO Sports documentary STUDENT ATHLETE, illuminating the complex rules of amateur athletics in America and showing how they affect uncompensated athletes and their families, will debut Tuesday, OCT. 2  at 10 p.m on HBO.

    From LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment and Steve Stoute’s United Masters, the feature-length presentation is directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Trish Dalton.

    “This is an incredibly important story about the institutional denial of basic human rights for these student athletes,” said Carter, CEO of SpringHill Entertainment. “When Steve Stoute brought us this idea, it was a perfect fit for the kind of stories we want to tell at SpringHill. We’re excited to work with one of the best human rights storytellers in Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy to help people see and feel how this issue impacts the lives of those living it.”

    Unpaid college athletes generate billions of dollars for their institutions every year. STUDENT ATHLETE unveils the exploitative world of high-revenue college sports through the stories of four young men at different stages of their athletic careers, as well as a coach-turned-advocate and a whistle-blowing shoe rep who exposes the money trail. The documentary spotlights: former NCAA and NFL coach John Shoop; New Jersey high school basketball phenom Nick Richards, now at the University of Kentucky; Mike Shaw, who played basketball at the University of Illinois and Bradley University; Shamar Graves, a former wide receiver at Rutgers University; and Silas Nacita, a walk-on who played football at Baylor University.

    From high-school recruiting to post-graduation, the usefulness of athletes is tied to their ability to produce revenue. Once they can no longer do that, their participation in sport ends – often abruptly – with virtually nothing to show for their contributions. An audited financial disclosure from the NCAA in March 2018 revealed the association had close to $1.1 billion in revenue during 2017, a total that was unimaginable in 1964, when the NCAA coined the term “student athlete.”

     “The NCAA, blinded by revenue goals, is turning student athletes into full-time employees,” says Steve Stoute, founder and CEO of United Masters. “This documentary is incredibly important, as it debunks the myth that student athletes are being fairly compensated by receiving scholarships and a valuable education. In fact, the demands put on these students by this oppressive system makes it impossible for them to get the education they deserve. The time is now to end this false narrative and reveal the truth of this exploitation.”

    In July 2017, news reports confirmed that the Big Ten conference had reached agreement with three television partners on a six-year, $2.64 billion rights deal to carry conference athletic competition, primarily focused on football and men’s basketball. Other powerhouse conferences across the country have struck similar deals and some have even partnered with media companies to launch standalone conference network channels dedicated to increasing exposure and generating more revenue.

    Huffington Post wrote, “Big-time college sports look more like their professional counterparts than they ever have with one major exception: The NCAA has restrictive rules in place that prevent schools from compensating athletes beyond the full cost of attending.”

    Directors Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Trish Dalton say, “We embedded in the world of men’s college basketball and football, capturing athletes’ hopes and dreams being shattered by the harsh reality of what it means to be a ‘student athlete’ in a billion-dollar industry.”

    (Release via HBO)

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.