M Robinson's article about what the Daisha Simmons story represents about the rights of NCAA student-athletes published this morning was actually an outtake from his first article about the issue on Thursday.
The reason we agreed to drop it: we didn't want to make this story about Kristy Curry initially (and would still love to hear more from Alabama's side...if anyone in Tuscaloosa is reading!) because this story is really about much bigger problems in the NCAA system that almost encourage this behavior. In fact, as alluded to in this morning's piece, this type of treatment of student-athletes isn't uncommon even if these specific cases -- Simmons, Sydney Moss vs. Florida, and Leticia Romero vs. Kansas State -- stand out as particularly egregious exercises of restrictive power. I thought a line from Jay Bilas in Thursday's piece summed it up best: "And because the NCAA rules don't prohibit them from acting in a shameful fashion, they're acting in a shameful fashion."
The NCAA has a major culture problem that anyone paying close attention to it already knows about -- look no further than historian Taylor Branch likening the NCAA to slavery and outspoken ex-NCAA player Etan Thomas countering by saying it's closer to running a sweatshop in an economically underdeveloped country. As Bilas has told M Robinson in the past, the issue here is that student-athletes are neither paid nor granted any real rights. As the situation at Alabama illustrates well -- from Curry's arrival to the departure of Simmons and Brittany Jack -- there's an expectation of loyalty from the student-athletes to their programs without a reciprocal expectation of loyalty either from the program to the athletes OR from coaches to programs as they move wherever they want when it's convenient.
I'll stop there because many others have articulated these points well in the past -- and we have plenty on the Simmons story in our storystream with even more to come shortly -- but I'll begin with a link that challenges us to start talking about solutions.
- Kenny Kallina explained on his own blog why Kristy Curry isn't really the biggest issue here even though she has been made out as the villain because we like to put a face on these things: the big problem is the culture of the NCAA. And he makes an interesting suggestion about what student-athletes can do about that: "If colleges want that flexibility to just dump their entire roster at any time then kids should have the flexibility to find a place they want to go and play right away. As a travel coach I would tell my players not to sign a NLI (you dont have to but no college coach would tell you that) because the NLI is the document which binds you to the school. If you just sign scholarship papers you still get your scholarship but you are not held hostage in a situation where you want to leave." Read more >>>
- Duane Rankin of the Montgomery Advertiser summarized the Simmons story on Saturday after Keith Olbermann killed Alabama on Friday and pointed out how the Alabama athletic department isn't always against student-athletes transferring after graduation: "The irony of the situation is junior quarterback Jacob Coker transferred to Alabama after graduating from Florida State earlier this spring and was granted immediate eligibility." Read more >>>
- Cal Athletics announced a set of accolades for star 2015 WNBA Draft prospects Brittany Boyd and Reshanda Gray: "Sporting News picked Gray as a first team All-American and Boyd as a second team All-America, while Lindy’s went either further by selected both as preseason All-Americans in addition to profiling Boyd as the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Athlon Sports also picked Gray as a second team All-American...Boyd was named a finalist for nearly every major award for eligible point guards while earning All-America status by the WBCA and the Associated Press." Read more >>>
- Anthony Zilis of the Ames Tribune reports that Iowa State is going to undergo some changes this year after losing Hallie Christofferson -- their tallest player last season by a wide margin -- to graduation. With their depth this year, they have options but it will mostly mean small ball -- possibly even five-guard lineups. Something interesting to watch as ISU goes small(er) now: preseason Big 12 honorable mention guard Nikki Moody will be playing more off the ball. Win or lose, this will be a fun team to watch this season just to see how everything shakes out. Read more >>>
- The NBA announced today that it is expanded its partnerships with Turner and Disney, which has been expected for some time. SB Nation has a complete storystream about the matter and its effect on the NBA (the salary cap implications are interesting), but there's some important WNBA news in there too: "The NBA and Turner will also continue their groundbreaking partnership to manage jointly the NBA’s digital assets including NBA TV, NBA.com, NBA Mobile, NBA LEAGUE PASS, and WNBA.com, which Turner operates out of its Atlanta production facility...Under a new deal with the WNBA, games will continue to be televised on ABC and ESPN/ESPN2 through the 2025 season. ESPN also will have enhanced in-progress highlight rights for the WNBA on digital and linear platforms." That's big news for everyone who has doubted the WNBA's vitality -- TV deals can make or break a league, not only in terms of financial viability but also simply as a matter of exposure. Read more >>>
- Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News reports that Seattle Storm assistant coach Jenny Boucek will be working with fellow Virginia alum Rick Carlisle and the Dallas Mavericks for the duration of their training camp. Boucek has long been the female coach seemingly right on the edge of getting a job even before Becky Hammon landed her groundbreaking position with the San Antonio Spurs. Carlisle has since emerged as one of the more vocal advocates for women coaching in the men's league: "The burning question should be, why shouldn’t the NBA dream be blind to gender for qualified people? There are a few I know that are qualified. Jenny’s one of them. Nancy Lieberman is qualified. Becky Hammon has a job. So it’s a reality that is evolving quickly." Read more >>>
- Darren Sabedre of the San Jose Mercury News caught up with Elena Delle Donne while she was in the Bay Area and provided an update on her health: "I am doing a lot better with the rest. I’ve been doing really intense physical therapy. Luckily, I am starting to improve. It’s going to take a couple of weeks, but hopefully I’ll continue to get better." Read more >>>
- Doug Smith of the Toronto Star writes that Team Canada is excited about their accomplishment of coming in fifth at the Worlds, but is more excited about a future that includes former Notre Dame star Natalie Achonwa and possibly 6-foot-4 San Antonio Stars center Kayla Alexander: "The combination of veterans and youngsters is unique for a program that spent most of the 1990s in flux. But a commitment from the athletes — and increased support and funding from Canada Basketball for extended training camps and exhibition tours — has created a much-needed level of consistency." Read more >>>
- Nick Zaccardi of NBC Sports wrote about Team USA winning the World Championships and included a question that has already been a topic of discussion this summer: "A great challenge moving forward will fall on Bird, 33, attempting to become the oldest U.S. woman since Lisa Leslie in 2008 to make an Olympic team. Bird will be in competition with Tulsa Shock guards Odyssey Sims, 22, and Skylar Diggins, 24, for playing time and roster spots. Diggins was among the final cuts for the World Championships team. Sims made it to Worlds and came off the bench." Read more >>>
- Reuters reports that the Qatari women's basketball team's protest against FIBA might have already catalyzed a change from FIBA: "OCA boss says talks aimed at allowing head coverings in basketball have begun." Read more >>>
For far more on the World Championships, check out our FIBA section. If you have other links that you think people should be reading today, feel free to drop them in the comments or create a fanshot.