Dick Vitale has been around the game of college basketball, whether as a coach or broadcaster, for nearly 50 years. And as the man affectionately known as “Dickie V” approaches his 80th birthday this June, he’s started to advocate for a major change in the sport he’s covered and coached for his entire adult life.
Vitale joined ESPN’s “Get Up!” on Friday morning to add his voice to the growing chorus of people who would like to see NCAA athletes get paid, or at least be able to capitalize on the use of their likeness. Vitale points to the Big Ten, who has five teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament, with each team earning the conference millions of dollars with each victory (the conference went 5-0 in Thursday’s action, with Iowa, Ohio State, and Wisconsin all on deck on Friday)
“What did those kids get? You know what they got? They got a handshake. ‘Great job kid! Super job. You really played well.'” Vitale said. “The time has come. The players deserve some dollars.”
Vitale went on to say that Duke’s Zion Williamson essentially “saved” college basketball, which seems to be caught up in scandal on an annual basis now, this season with his play, and that he should be able to make money off his skyrocketing popularity.
“Why not let a kid like Zion, or any player, if they can make an appearance, if the can do an endorsement, why not?” Vitale said. “If an agent wants to give them money while they’re playing, why not? You eliminate the sleezy middle man who’s out there hustling, doing it behind the scenes and cheating. We’ve got to get real, man. This is 2019.”
The call for college athletes to be able to make money grows louder by the day. Whether the NCAA ever makes it a reality remains to be seen.