Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons isn’t playing basketball right now as a result of a broken foot, but that won’t stop the No. 1 overall pick and former LSU star from making big-time news in the basketball world. A new Showtime documentary spotlighting Simmons is set to air on Friday and, in previewing the project, ESPN broke word that Simmons’ feelings about the NCAA are on display.
A slew of quotes have surfaced from Simmons that paint the NCAA in an extremely negative light. Simmons went after the NCAA for profiting off its athletes in two different leaked passages:
“The NCAA is really f—ed up. Everybody’s making money except the players. We’re the ones waking up early as hell to be the best teams and do everything they want us to do and then the players get nothing. They say education, but if I’m there for a year, I can’t get much education.”
“The NCAA is messed up. I don’t have a voice. … I don’t get paid to do it. Don’t say I’m an amateur and make me take pictures and sign stuff and go make hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars off one person. … I’m going off on the NCAA. Just wait, just wait. I can be a voice for everybody in college. I’m here because I have to be here [at LSU]. … I can’t get a degree in two semesters, so it’s kind of pointless. I feel like I’m wasting time.”
In addition, Simmons was quoted as saying “I’m here to play, I’m not here to go to school.” While that is a familiar refrain from high-profile college athletes, it is certainly noteworthy in context. This attitude is not necessarily surprising from Simmons, who was famously benched for a portion of an SEC game for missing class amid widespread assumptions that he would jump to the NBA after one year in Baton Rouge. Additionally, there were reports that his low GPA kept him from being a finalist for the Wooden Award.
The NCAA’s response to this type of public criticism from an athlete barely removed from his collegiate career, assuming it decides to address this, will be exceedingly interesting. At the very least, the public can take in a no-holds-barred look at the action behind the scenes from a prominent player who lived through it at the highest level.