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.
Knicks forward Michael Beasley says college players should be paid amid FBI investigation
TARRYTOWN, N.Y. — Knicks forward Michael Beasley isn’t holding back on the state of college basketball.
In the wake of the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball that led to the firing of Louisville coach Rick Pitino on Wednesday, Beasley was asked how corrupt the whole process is.
“Man, you guys are just catching on,” Beasley said with a smile at Knicks practice.
After finishing up at Notre Dame Prep (Mass.), the 6-foot-9 Beasley spent one season under Frank Martin at Kansas State — alongside Billy Walker, who briefly played for the Knicks — before becoming the No. 2 pick in the 2008 NBA Draft.
Asked if college players should be compensated, Beasley highlighted his own college experience.
“I went to a small school in Manhattan, Kansas, that nobody heard of, that the city of Manhattan has now multiplied by five, six,” he said. “Should I be compensated?
Asked if the size of the city multiplied because of him, Beasley said: “They sold my jerseys. Not just me, but Kentucky and Anthony Davis. About USC and O.J. Mayo. Western Kentucky and Courtney Lee. We bring a lot to these schools and we can’t even park in front of the arenas in games. They still make us, as freshman, park two parking lots away from the dorm rooms in the freezing cold. Do I think most of the players should be compensated? Yes. Because most of us don’t make it this level. A lot of us don’t make it to the professional level, let alone the NBA. So I do think guys should be getting paid? The NCAA is making billions. Not just off basketball, but football, soccer.”
Asked if the latest scandal will bring some of this to light, he said: “I don’t know. I don’t care. I play in the NBA. If it is going to bring it to light, I got an audit to do. But I’m here for the Knicks. I’m here to play basketball.”
Asked if it’s common that high school players are getting paid, as was allegedly the case with Louisville freshman Brian Bowen whose family got $100,000, Beasley said: “I can’t answer that. I didn’t get paid to go to Kansas State. We did it the right way. Frank [Martin] is a morally humble guy, confident in his ways of basketball and recruiting. And him throwing a dollar out, listen, he’s cheap.”
Sonny Vaccaro, the legendary grassroots sneaker guru who signed Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant to multi-million dollar sneaker deals, said he believes college athletes should be compensated.
“They have to figure out a way to financially take care of these kids while they’re in college playing their sports,” Vaccaro said by phone from California. “They have to figure out a way to compensate these kids. Some of them don’t get an education, some of them get CTE, all of the things that have happened in the last five years.
“The only thing that stops it is the NCAA with their willful greed keeping all the money for themselves.”
As for colleges paying high school athletes to come to their schools, Vaccaro said it all had to do with making money for the colleges and NCAA.
“Athletes are employees,” Vaccaro said. “Why is there so much effort to give money to these superior athletes? The answer is because they’re going to help us win bowl games and go to the Final Four, that’s the answer. They don’t recruit me and you, they recruit guys who can get them to the [NCAA] Tournament, to the bowls.”
Asked if players like Bowen should play overseas if they’re declared ineligible by the NCAA, Vaccaro said: “I hope they’re good enough [to play overseas] because the rest of their life is going to be screwed up.
“What if they’re not good enough [to play overseas]? Their whole life is in jeopardy.”
Photo: Getty Images
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.