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Charles Barkley wants college players compensated, but hasn’t heard solution

Charles Barkley, NCAA

For years, the debate has continued over whether NCAA athletes should be paid. Some think that athletes involved in such lucrative programs deserve pay, especially for risking injury and draft stock. Others feel that their scholarships are payment enough. NBA legend Charles Barkley is the latest to chime in on the debate. On Wednesday he was asked about compensation for college athletes and how it should be handled. His answer, via Jeff Eisenband on Twitter (transcribed by myself):

“I get so annoyed when people say shit on TV and don’t have a plan. Let me say this – I’m pro-player. I want the players to get as much as possible. But somebody’s gotta explain to me how we’re going to pay these players…Do we pay the basketball team, the football team, then we gotta pay all the sports – that’s a legitimate question, how do you do it? Instead of just getting on TV and saying, ‘We gotta pay these players,’ okay, how do we do it?

“Secondly, I’ve heard these idiots saying, ‘Well why don’t we let guys sell their likeness?’ Yeah! That’s great if you’re a star! Listen, let me tell you something – if I’m a big fat offensive lineman and the quarterback is selling his jersey and he’s getting commercials, and the running back, and I’m actually doing all the work, how do you think that’s gonna go over in the locker room? This guy is making an extra six, seven hundred thousand dollars, but I’m actually doing all the work.

“So, I get frustrated when I hear these guys get on TV, ‘We gotta pay these players.’ Don’t just get on TV and say it, come up with a game plan. Because then you gotta pay all the sports. You gotta pay the girls’ sports, you gotta pay the shitty sports…

“…I want the players to be taken care of. But the number one thing is I want the players to get their free education. But, I never get on TV and say ‘Let’s just pay all the players,’ I’m like, okay, well just, let me come up with a game plan. And I really don’t know how to do it.”

In his response, it is clear that Barkley fully supports the student athletes. He believes they are deserving of financial compensation for their hard work. But he is unsure exactly how to do so. Barkley repeatedly noted that many continue to publicly complain about the issue without providing a viable solution.

He also pointed out the flaws in one of the most common suggested solutions – allowing athletes to sell their likeness. Currently, sales of jerseys and other merchandise featuring the name or likeness of one or more student athletes is prohibited. Many believe sales of such merchandise should be allowed, with players profiting from the sales. But Barkley points out that this would only benefit star players and could lead to conflict.

Barkley also noted that any rule regarding payment would have to be universal. It wouldn’t just apply to the more popular sports such as football and men’s basketball, but require compensation for athletes playing less popular sports as well. This makes it even harder to find a viable solution.

The Hall-of-Famer and 11-time All-Star played three seasons at Auburn University before being drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 1984. Since the conclusion of his playing career in 2000, Barkley has remained involved in the game. He has served as an NBA analyst for TNT since his retirement and has covered March Madness with CBS since 2011.