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Wendell Carter’s mom’s comments comparing NCAA to slavery off-base, out of line

There’s no doubt that the last few weeks having been trying times for the sport of college basketball and those of us who love it. Back on April 25th the “Rice Commission,” an independent group that was put in charge of evaluating college basketball and calling for changes, released its results. And no matter how realistic some of those changes were, the simple fact remains that change, in some form or another, is coming to college sports.

Still the hit parade on the NCAA hasn’t stopped since then, with more and more people continuing to call out the governing body of college athletics. The latest to do so? Kylia Carter, the mother of Wendell Carter, who just completed a one-and-done season as a basketball player at Duke.

Mrs. Carter (who in full-disclosure, I interviewed a few years ago and really enjoyed chatting with) spoke on Monday morning, and – to be blunt – made some shocking comments on the state of college athletics as a whole.

Here is her full quote, with the last line in particular standing out:

“When you remove all the bling and the bells and the sneakers and all that, you’ve paid for a child to come to your school to do what you wanted them to do for you, for free. And you made a lot of money when he did that, and you’ve got all these rules in place that say he cannot share in any of that. The only other time when labor does not get paid but yet someone else gets profits and the labor is black and the profit is white, is in slavery.”

Ummm, wow. I mean, I get that the NCAA is a flawed, imperfect entity. Most are. But to compare it to slavery? Are we sure that’s the analogy we want to use here?

For starters, let’s get a few facts right out in the open, the most basic of which is this: No one forced Wendell Carter to go to Duke, or for Mrs. Carter to send her son there. As we all know, the one-and-done rule is an NBA rule and not a college one, meaning that no player is forced to go to college, they are just not allowed into the NBA until a certain point. Her son had no tangible obligation to go to Duke, and if it were simply about being compensated for his talent, there were plenty of options for him. He could have gone and played in the G-League, or gone overseas and easily gotten a contract for a couple hundred thousand dollars. At 18-years-old, he could have made more money in one year than most of the entire world’s population.

However, once Wendell Carter’s family decided to go to Duke, they basically agreed to an unofficial contract which basically said the following: “You won’t be compensated financially for his basketball skills, but instead, compensated in other ways.” One of the ways you’ll be compensated, is with an education. That was something that very important to the Carter, as Wendell chose Duke over Harvard.

That’s also why the Carter’s chose to push their son into the evil, awful NCAA system in the first place: So Carter could begin on his path towards a college degree before going to the NBA. Sure, the family was giving up money from Carter’s basketball skills to play college basketball. But they were also saving money on an education that would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if their son wasn’t a world-class basketball player.

And ultimately, that is the deal that every athlete makes when they decide to play college sports: You’re giving up money on the front end, for access to a lot of different things on the back end.

For everyone, it’s the chance to earn a college education, something that – let’s never forget – the vast, vast, majority of players will need later on in their lives. For every one Wendell Carter, there are hundreds of college players who won’t make enough money playing basketball to support themselves the rest of their lives and will need their college degree. Let’s also not forget when Wendell Carter signed up to play for Duke (again, with his parent’s consent), he was also given access to the best health, nutrition and medicine available, 100 percent for free. Those are other perks that college athletes get, that the vast majority of students don’t. Things like free housing, multiple free meals a day (at a place like Duke, those meals are catered to their exact, dietary needs) and access to some of the best doctors and trainers in the world.

Does that sound slavery to you? It doesn’t sound like it to me, and by the way, I’m not even totally sure it sounds like it to Mrs. Carter.

And you know how I know that it doesn’t sound like slavery to Mrs. Carter? Because let’s never forget, She wanted her son to… STAY AT DUKE!!!

Yes, I’m being 100 percent serious here. The same system which Mrs. Carter referred to as slavery on Monday was one that she didn’t want her son to leave just one month ago.

Here is what she told ESPN on April 12th:

“After the season happened, and I started thinking about it. I was like, ‘Wait a minute. If you came back, it would only make you a better person,’ ” she said. “It would improve your quality of life. It would improve your relationships. It would be about you. It wouldn’t be about basketball. So this is really something to think about.

“Of course, as a mom, I started thinking about it, so I told him: I want you to come back.”

She actually said that! And I can’t lie, I’m a little confused. If college basketball really is this terrible, awful, insanely exploitative system that is supposedly like “slavery” who the hell would want their son to stay around for another year? Who would want their son to stay at all? Wouldn’t she have pulled him out Day 1, Hour 1, Minute 1, if it was so bad? Or at the very least, rushed him out the second that the season ended? That would seem like the only logical thing to do. Instead, she actively campaigned to keep him there for another year.

And ultimately that’s my biggest gripe with Mrs. Carter’s comments. You can’t publicly endorse a system one day, actively push your son to be a part of it, and then three weeks later call it “slavery.” That’s just not how it works.

And it’s a shame really, because if you read the rest of Carter’s comments, she brings up some really interesting points. Specifically she calls for schools to better educate their players, and to better implement a structure where, when the best players leave after one or two years, they can continue their education in the NBA. It’s something that some schools like Kentucky take seriously, but not all schools do. To Mrs. Carter’s point, if these schools really are about “educating” kids, they need to do a better job of following through on that promise.

Still, it doesn’t change the fact that while the NCAA is an imperfect system, with obvious changes that need to be made, it is still a system that benefits the vast majority of student-athletes. A system where thousands of kids – not just in basketball, but all sports – exchange their athletic gifts for an education, an education most of which they will need to use going forward.

Admittedly, there are plenty of logical changes to be made to the NCAA system.

But the one thing the NCAA isn’t, is like slavery.

Not even close.

Aaron Torres is covering football and basketball for KSR this season after four years at Fox Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres or e-mail at [email protected]. He is also the author of the only book written on the Calipari era, “One and Fun: A Behind the Scenes Look at John Calipari and the 2010 Kentucky Wildcats.”

Article written by Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres is covering football and basketball for KSR this season after four years at Fox Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Aaron_Torres, Facebook or e-mail at [email protected] He is also the author of the only book written on the Calipari era, “One and Fun: A Behind the Scenes Look at John Calipari and the 2010 Kentucky Wildcats.”

60 Comments for Wendell Carter’s mom’s comments comparing NCAA to slavery off-base, out of line

  1. JTHinton
    12:09 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    As always, great article. Imo your best writing has a serious tone. Will be showing this to everyone I talk CBB with

  2. RackEmWillie
    12:15 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    So, it’s superb medical care, free food, free gear, free travel, free education, with the understanding that there is a potential to make millions in a year (2 years, tops). And you willingly chose this option. And there were other options that included being paid for your services currently.

    I think Aaron is right. There is on way someone could think of it as slavery. And if she does, she might be insane. Or not know what slavery actually is.

    • Luether
      11:11 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      This is not complicated. Ms. Carter is just a garden variety greedy Democ Rat who has been raised to believe that she, her son, and all black people are VICTIMS – no matter what they have or what they’re given…

  3. BallDontLie
    12:20 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    No mames

    12:21 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    Moderated. Nice.

  5. kjd
    12:22 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    Excellent commentary!

  6. Bluebloodtoo
    12:30 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  7. UKLugo
    12:33 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    Nice commentary.
    All reasons, IMO, that college players should not be paid.

  8. Mc12
    12:34 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    Now I feel terrible for Grayson Allen. A 4 year slave

    • kjd
      3:10 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      Mc12: Her definition of slavery stated the labor(er) is black. Allen doesn’t meet her qualification as slave

  9. ukjaybrat
    12:34 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    “and the labor is black and the profit is white, is in slavery.”

    Let’s all take some time to remember
    1) not everyone in the NCAA is white
    2) not all basketball players are black
    3) this isn’t even the definition of slavery

    her comments are just plain wrong for all the reasons you stated, but even her premise is wrong

    • CatManDo
      1:52 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      There was a time when the NCAA was all white – it was awful and we should all agree it was incredibly wrong. That was obvious racism.
      Now that 85% (or whatever the percentage is) of the players are black, there are those who claim the black athlete is being exploited for the benefit of mainly white society. So we are back to racism again.
      Maybe we need to mandate that every team have 7 white players and 7 black players?

    • Catscats23
      6:03 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      Catmando, that would be wrong too. It should go by a percentage of the population. We should have like 9 whites, 3 blacks, 1 asian, and a mixed race and at least 1 OF those should be a LGBQTUVXYZ. We gotta be fair to everyone. Hell why not require one to be a crippled too.

  10. Trevor
    12:36 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    The NCAA isnt perfect by any means but IMHO, these kids are offered the benefit of an education. How many will actually make it to the NBA? In my opinion, its not the NBA or NCAA job to install a value in education in their heads. That is the parents job! Parents need to manage those hanger ons and ansilary people that are around these kids. If they don’t, they risk putting an entitled kid in college who thinks he is the next Michael Jordan. When is reality they are closer to the next Darko Millicic. Even if you go to the NBA, get that education! There IS life after basketball!

  11. Daddyof3Ballers
    12:40 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    One of the issues in our society. When you want to make a point just call it racism, bigotry, uneducated, or various of other terms. Great points in the article to show she’s not a very bright person. I agree it’s flawed but slavery is BS. Also, saying the blacks are the ones doing the work and the whites are getting paid is racist. Why is it that white people and Christians are to blame for everything? I’m simply tired of hearing we need diversity but Christians and whites need to go away. We need to get rid of racism, but I’m free to downgrade other races because I’m a minority. The day we stop making things about race is the Day racism will go away. The new generation is here, let go of what other generations did please.

    • cats646
      1:26 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink


    • plumloopy
      1:52 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      I don’t agree with Mrs. Carter’s analogy at all but a few comments:

      1. How did you lump Christianity in here? And who is saying whites and Christians “need to go away?”
      2. It’s easy for the race with the most power to ask others to “stop making things about race.”
      3. You don’t get to draw a line in the sand and demand that people ignore the past because your own views have evolved.
      4. IMO, you are embracing victimhood (us poor white Christians!) to justify your views, as though you are oppressed by modern society. But poor white Christians still have the vast majority of stuff and vast majority of opportunity in the U.S..

      White, Male and Christian

    • TPACAT
      7:33 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      Don’t let that white guilt weigh you down, Loopy. I sure as hell don’t…

    • wyatts1
      9:28 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      Plumloopy you sound like you and Mrs Carter has the same outlook on life, that’s to bad. Fact is that you or anyone you’ve ever known has never picked any cotton, and their isn’t a white man alive that’s ever owned a slave. America just had a black president (worst in history might I add) while blacks rap/sing about killing cops or the president and NOTHING happens to them, I’d say they get away with more then other races in a lot of instances. Fact is the word “racist” gets throwed up every single time something doesn’t seem right to some people of color and it’s been used so much it’s cheapened it and it’s just another punchline for a group to push their own narrative down other’s throats. I agree with everything 3baller said, and so does 90% of the people out here in the real world with a brain. It’s not a black/white fight anymore, it’s a rich/poor fight nowadays but unfortunately some like Mrs Carter are stuck in the same mind set as the 60’s.

  12. CatFanInLou
    12:40 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    She didn’t say it was “like” slavery, she made a comparison about the fairness of the distribution of the profits. The fact of the matter is that playing overseas or in the G-League are not viable options for players who want to maximize their earning potential (see, e.g. Brandon Jennings, Emmanual Mundiay). The NCAA has a monopoly on the best way to prepare for the NBA while awaiting the age of 19. The average NBA career is 4.8 years and the average salary is $5.2 million. The maximum length of an NBA career is inherently limited by age. When the NBA sets artificial limits on age, they are limiting the ability of players to maximize their earnings. I think that the main reason that they do this is to force kids into college for scouting purposes. Skal is a great example. He was the number one recruit out of high school, but his college play raised very serious questions about his ability. The bottom line is that the NBA and the NCAA both profit at the expense of the players. That is not slavery, but it is unfair to the kids.

    • rickwhitetx
      1:19 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      86.7% of all statistics are made up.

      The maximum length of an NBA career is inherently limited by talent and work ethic first.

      Quoting the average salary is an illogical statement. The average is weighted upward due to the max salaries of the best players. Also, the average is invalid as well. How many players end up with a 10 day contract and that’s all they ever get?

    • crazycatfan65
      1:33 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      So getting a FREE education that has the ability to set you and your family up for a better life, unfair? Wonder how many students and former student who are working to pay of the college loans they racked up getting their education, would disagree with you?

  13. J-Dub421
    12:41 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    Tuition to Duke along with additional fees, room and board, books, etc. is currently about $72,000. Ms. Carter is more than welcome to reimburse Duke for the cost of her son’s attendance for one year if she’s so unhappy.

  14. cats646
    12:42 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    She’s seriously ill.

  15. mccullou
    12:42 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    In her remarks, Mrs. Carter should probably have stated that the NCAA is not identical to slavery or the prison system, but it has similarities, the biggest of which is this: a few people are profiting from the labor of thousands who do not share in those profits. This is no exaggeration, no false statement, it is a simple fact.

    • Bluebloodtoo
      2:18 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      Thay depends on how you define profit. That 4 year degree is worth a lot of money initially, and much, much more over their life. That sounds like profit to me.

    • Soylentbeans
      3:59 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      In just 20 years tuition at state universities has increased 157% it is far outpacing inflation. I wonder if it to make people feel like they are getting more out of scholarships? Could be I don’t know. Seems fishy in the least to me though.

  16. mccullou
    12:52 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    11, you brought up race. I did not see where she did so; however the majority of college basketball players are african american, all slaves were and most prison inmates were. This certainly has nothing to do with Christianity.

    • rickwhitetx
      1:25 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      Sorry to disappoint you, but all slaves were not African-American. There were white people that were slaves too. Granted, it was a small minority, but it happened.

    • Catsby80
      9:33 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      mccullou – you did not see where she brought up race? did you not read her quote? it very clearly makes mention of white and black folks…

  17. KTR2786
    1:00 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    This woman is complaining about her son’s apparent lack of opportunity at the behest of white all the while she and her son are appropriating white culture by playing basketball and benefiting from it. But seriously, this is the result of the victim culture that has taken over, especially in the black community.

  18. bigfatstoopidE
    1:00 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    I disagree with her statements and find them disrepectful, but would anyone have even picked up on them if she had said “the ncaa is unfair”?
    Hyperbole drives social media, which is the primary feeder of the news cycle.

  19. the ghost of Bill Hicks
    1:10 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    “unpaid internship”.

  20. The last sith lord
    1:19 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    I agree with her … Ncaa following rules that was created when it was illegal to dunk and fast breaks teams were known as monkey ball . entire cities and towns survive off of ppl that get nothing in return save an opportunity to sit in an over populated class n spend 4 years persuing a piece of paper worth 200,000 thousand dollars. Its a joke .. No one talks about most these kids can go to college for free on financial aid . many of them ain lived at home since grade school shipped off to private schools and living around ppl foriegn to them . most come from families that c ant afford to pay for the million dollar insuance package against injury.
    Ladies n gents our society of capitalism made them professionals a long time ago. Shoe companies inverstment teams high school recruiting aau circuts.
    Now the ncaa exoects them to stop being what they ve been doing , stop being a dreamer a capitalist an innovator . all to chase a piece of paper that i known ppl who work at walmart to carry . .. If its not slavery then its jim crow n share cropping

    • StuckinLville
      1:22 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      You’re an idiot too

    • CATandMONKEY
      1:30 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      Sweet effing christ.

    • ClutchCargo
      1:58 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      Yet they are free to not participate in this so-called slavery at any time. Mrs. Carter is an idiot for making such statements that trivialize what actual slaves went through, and then here you come to defend it. We are all a little bit dumber for having read that garbage.

    • Catsby80
      9:36 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      trying to read your post damn near gave me a migraine…

  21. StuckinLville
    1:20 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    I was going to think of something to say, but basically just calling her an idiot will suffice. I bet the real slaves are floppin in their graves after that ignorant ass comment.

  22. JusSayin
    1:29 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    The NCAA system isn’t slavery. It’s socialism.

    Wealth is distributed from sports that turn a huge profit… basketball and football, to subsidize sports where the athletes probably aren’t even worth the value of their room and board on the open market like softball.

    It’s not fair but it’s not slavery.

    • CATandMONKEY
      1:32 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      Ding. Ding. Ding.
      We have a winner.

    • Bluebloodtoo
      2:21 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      Isn’t socialism about making everyone equal? I get your point, but probably another inaccurate analogy there.

    • mm40
      2:20 am May 9, 2018 Permalink

      Yes socialism is about making everyone equal. The analogy is far from inaccurate. Socialism in part relies on wealth distribution and profit sports (football and basketball) fund all the other non-profit sports.

    • KTR2786
      3:29 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      Blueblood, that’s communism. The NCAA is an excellent model for how socialism fails.

  23. blackmilk23
    1:37 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    Dang, that’s a really good explanation.

  24. kybirdieman
    2:00 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    NCAA distributing wealth. What a joke. It’s peanuts to what they give back.

  25. binarysolo
    2:03 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    I’m a bit surprised that you, Aaron, are siding on the “these athletes get a free education” argument. The whole point of the athletes getting paid argument is that the NCAA makes billions from free labor. These one-and-dones are not interested in a college education and the NBA prevents them from jumping straight to the league.

    Let’s say there’s a system where if you wanted to be paid as a writer and your options are writing for unknown websites in Europe or you could spend a year working for a very popular website. The catch is, you’ll paid with a bag of cow intestines working for this site. And this site makes billions off of the work you and your colleagues do.

    It’s not slavery because you’re getting paid in cow intestines?

    • makeitstop
      4:53 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      Do you know what a good college degree cost? How much a degree is worth over a lifetime? A lot more than cow intestines. Duke – and other highly selective schools – cost almost $300k for 4 years – tuition, room, board, and meals… but that’s the cost not the value. The value is several times greater than that, bc of the discrepancy in earnings between people who go to selective schools and those who don’t, isolating those whose parents did not go to college. In other words if u went to Princeton but your parents did too, the gap in earning is not nearly as great. So, whether u count the cost or the value of his scholarship, young Mr. Carter received more compensation in one year than 99% of American wage earners… he’s the one percent. You know, not a slave and not a pawn and not a victim. A damn lucky kid.

  26. a21CATSfan
    2:23 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    Is this just a coincidence that he was the only dUKe player in the FBI investigation? Coach K has something to do with this. He made her come out and say this ignorant BS to cover his butt. I’m sure Wendell Carter had it really rough going to a top flight university for free with top notch housing and facilities and unlimited food for a whole year.

  27. BleedBlue3
    3:15 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    This is ridiculous. At least your kid gets to go to college for free saving thousands of dollars in debt that most other people haven’t the luxury of. The scholarship is what you have earned.

    • Bluebloodtoo
      5:32 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

      … saving hundreds of thousands if that university is Duke.

  28. me101
    4:22 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    Well Kenya was right. Its a choice this day and age.

  29. me101
    4:24 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    Well Kanya….sorry.

  30. KYcats11
    4:56 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    Playing basketball and a free education is so bad… Almost as bad as being forced to do something because of the color of you skin.

  31. Bobbum Man
    6:38 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    Truly one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read, comparing playing basketball and getting a free college education at a top notch school to being kidnapped and forced to do manual labor. I deeply feel sorry for people like her who just look for a reason to be offended and cry racism… sad part isn’t people agree with her

  32. BallDontLie
    6:49 pm May 8, 2018 Permalink

    The value of the education is a bogus argument. The tuition cost doesnt represent value, the money you can make with a certain degree is where the value lies. If you go to duke and get a 4 yr business degree vs a 4 year psychology degree you arent going to make the same money because i a 4 year psych degree qualifies you to be management at a restaurant or department store. Your education cost the same, but doesnt have the same value.
    That being said, not like slavery, at all.

  33. Wcatfan727
    6:06 am May 9, 2018 Permalink

    The NCAA isn’t slavery, but our is more than just imperfect. It is broken beyond repair.

  34. The last sith lord
    7:24 am May 9, 2018 Permalink

    A college degree is worth only 200,000 and most of these guys could go to school for free with financial aid . the truth is right college is the only viable option to the nba .