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And Another Thing

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O ungracious man

Oh, hello there. Don't mind me. I'm just plowing through these star charts to find out what planet Jim Delany lives on.

Delany is the commissioner of the Big Ten, and also, apparently, a lineal descendent of Marie Antoinette. This after Delany responded to the hot-button issue of whether or not Division I college athletes should be paid by saying, essentially, let them eat cake.

"Maybe in football and basketball, it would work better if more kids had a chance to go directly into the professional ranks," Delany said. "If they're not comfortable and want to monetize, let the minor leagues flourish. Train at IMG, get agents to invest in your body, get agents to invest in your likeness and establish it on your own ...

"If an athlete wants to professionalize themselves, professionalize themselves. We've been training kids for professional sports. I argue it's the color, I argue it's the institution. If you think it's about you, then talk to John Havlicek about that, you've got to talk to Michael Jordan about that. These brands have been built over 100 years."

OK, I get the subtext of what Delany was saying, at least in part. And I applaud the fact that an NCAA official would actually come out and publicly express how weary he is of the NBA and NFL using college athletics as their minor leagues -- especially the NFL, which made somewhere around $9 billion last year. If the Shield wants a minor league, it can damn well afford to set up its own.

And yet ... there's the rest of Delany's message. Could anyone have more starkly laid bare the disdain with which the NCAA apparently regards its "student-athletes"? And could anyone be more starkly wrongheaded?

Case in point: "If an athlete wants to professionalize"?

Um, Mr. Delany, they don't have to "professionalize." You guys already did that.

I can think of very few forms of entertainment these days that are more professional than Division I football and basketball. Money changes hands, enormous sums of it. National TV contracts not at all different from professional TV contracts are negotiated. Same with apparel deals, conference network deals, bowl deals, on and on -- all of which enrich everyone but the athletes generating all the incomes.

Yet here's Delany, with breathtaking gall, implying it's the athletes who are ungrateful and selfish, simply for wondering why no one seems to have to play by any rules except them. Really? When's the last time this guy looked in a mirror?

Because I'll tell you what's ungrateful and selfish: Reacting to this issue by saying if the players don't like the way the NCAA does things, they should forgo college athletics and strike out on their own. Now, Delany knows full well that can't happen for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that a majority of D-I athletes don't have the financial wherewithal to do so. But he comes off as if he doesn't care about that.

These little snots want a cut of what they've produced to make men like Jim Delany rich beyond measure? Why, how dare they!

"Don't come here and say, 'We want to be paid $25,000 or $50,000,'" Delany said. "Go to the D-League and get it, go to the NBA and get it, go to the NFL and get it. Don't ask us what we've been doing."

In other words: (Bleep) you, Jack. I got mine.

They oughta emboss it on the NCAA crest.

Ben Smith's blog.

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