“Welcome to the Historical Basketball League”

This appears to be an interesting experiment brewing.

Welcome to the Historical Basketball League, the first national basketball league for college students that will substantially compensate college athletes based on their athletic ability. The HBL is founded on a simple idea: college sports are popular because they are sports played by college students, and that NCAA-style amateurism is a means of excluding athletes from the financial benefits of the league, rather than as a benefit to fans or athletes. The HBL will be also be a financial boon to the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that will comprise the schools in the league. The HBL hopes to give schools and athletes an option outside of the traditional NCAA model.

There’s a lengthy FAQ section at the website that addresses a ton of issues we’ve raised in the comments here about student-athlete compensation.  The organizers have also just issued a statement about the FBI investigation of college basketball and Title IX that’s worth a read.

I have no idea whether this works out, of course.  Running it through the cash-strapped HCBUs is a sharp idea, but there are a lot of boxes that have to be checked before it’s a viable option — after all, agreeing to pay players is one thing; actually having the financial wherewithal to pay them is entirely another.

Regardless, it’s still an interesting experiment, if only to provide an environment that may answer a bunch of questions that are raised regularly about compensation.  Keep an eye on this.



Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

19 responses to ““Welcome to the Historical Basketball League”

  1. 81Dog

    Sounds like the next step from the current AAU system. I’m sure the promoters have visions of millions dancing before their eyes. Maybe they’re right. Good luck to them all.


  2. Normaltown Mike

    love it.

    If it works and if power schools like ours don’t come up with a competitive response we’ll see a quick slide away from the NCAA.


  3. JCDAWG83

    Good luck to them. I don’t know if they will be able to generate the revenue required to pay coaches, overhead, travel and players. My guess is; this will fail and quietly go away.


    • Alkaline

      I am similarly pessimistic, but it may not require quite as much money as might be expected. Expenses for travel and coaching salaries exist at colleges already, so that pretty much leaves paying the players–which the league office says they intend to do instead of the schools. One multi-million dollar endorsement deal probably takes care of that enough to get things started. Sustainability in the face of Title IX still makes it seem like a long-shot in the long-term to me, though. Even if it would work otherwise, that basically cuts compensation for the male players in half.


      • The other Doug

        The NBA might be willing to throw some money in or at least nudge sponsors to pony up. It’s a cheap minor league system.


  4. Jared S.

    Maybe first they should hire a marketing expert who would tell them that the name is horrible: Both the full name “Historical Basketball League” and the acronym “HBL” sound awkward and don’t say much of anything about what the league actually is…. other than some vague connotation with HBCs, which I get.

    The point is the name doesn’t roll off the tongue and sounds like a group of 70-year old men came up with it.


    • 81Dog

      I’m sure street agents and AAU hustlers have nothing to do with this innovative idea that is sure to rain money on the organizers.


  5. Rocksalt

    Their Title IX and women’s sports section in the FAQ is pure fantasy. That “even if female athletes aren’t compensated, they’ll still see the light when their facilities are better” (and I’m paraphrasing) section is where the perception will beat the reality about the face and neck. A female lacrosse player (and her expensive Title IX lawyer) won’t be happy to take the table scraps from Basketball – especially when her peer athlete on that BBall squad is bringing home $50k-$100k. The ladies will – rightly – interpret it as a pat on the head while the boys rake in the dough. Title IX says if you’re gonna pay one of ’em, you’re gonna have to pay ’em all, and the fact that one fills up arenas while the other can’t fill up a set of outdoor stands on the intramural fields won’t matter one iota.

    But then again, with this administration maybe Title IX w/r/t sports will be a dead letter?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Did you read the release that was the third linked piece in the post?


      • Rocksalt

        Sorry no, but I just did. It seems that they are making two statements:

        1) they’re attempting to decouple the amateurism from the sport, by paying their players.
        2) they’re attempting to placate the other athletes in the universities by making commitments to “proportionality” in compensation to the other sports

        What I may not have been articulating well in my post above is that you have the “law” and the “optics”. Right now, proportionality works under the “law” and sort of works under the “optics” because everyone is a student athlete, the facilities and scholarships can be kept proportional, and no one is getting officially paid outside of this proportionality. On a side note, that’s what’s getting Betsy DeVos killed in the media even now – that she’s arguing the law while the celebrities, Dems, and unfriendly outlets are basically arguing optics.

        My capitalist/federalist side is a big proponent of moves like this, but my opinion (being on the internet means never having to say “in my opinion”) is that once the salaries for these players start climbing up, especially if they are still representatives of the university, will blow up the “optics” part of the equation. There’s nothing my female lacrosse player can do to compel more people and sponsors to flock to her sport, that’s life, but once the University itself starts making value judgements about one athlete’s efforts vs. another’s, it will start to get problematic.

        My solution is that the student and the University both sign agreements to make whatever money they can on the others’ likeness – with none of that money being shared between the two parties – during the time of the student’s run at the University. This way the University can profit and distribute funds to buildings, facilities, and other sports in a proportional manner, and the athlete is free to eat what he or she kills.


        • paul

          You are correct to point out the importance of optics. Look no further than taking a knee. Very few people would disagree that African Americans and other minorities are routinely treated much differently by law enforcement than Caucasians. But very few of us agree with the optics of disrespecting our flag. Particularly those of us who have family or loved ones who served. As a result, millions, if not tens of millions of people who might otherwise support their position will not. The optics of the situation have driven a wedge between groups instead of bringing people together to solve a problem.


  6. PharmDawg

    This will be the Tuskegee Experiment of college sports. Instead of spreading syphilis, it will spread corruption.


    • Alkaline

      Why? All of the corruption that the NCAA investigates in its member institutions is essentially caused by the fact that student-athletes can’t be directly compensated. It seem to me that if you pay them openly then you no longer have to find illegal/unethical ways to keep them at your school.


      • PharmDawg

        The NCAA needs to rid itself of the Mafia in college basketball. Don Pitino is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s the Calipari Family, the Larranaga Family, Don Massimino, Don Vitale…


  7. ASEF

    It is an interesting idea for TV. They will have to find a way to pay better than the G League. Also, when you have a high school junior decide he is really a high school senior, take a couple of online courses and then land at Duke, you have to decide how far you are willing to bend on the academic front.

    CBB is a struggling sport right now. Hard to see how a new model simultaneously upsets the apple carts and renews interest in a sport that no one cares about anymore beyond a brief spring spectacle.


  8. zamalou

    JMHO — but this is a really stupid idea.

    The reason I follow UGA sports is because I went there and have an affection for the university and my home State, including the athletes that represent her. That kind of affiliation is the real pull for college sports over their pro equivalents.

    Other people have their motivations for following pro sports and I’m sure there’s more than one kind of affection, more power to them. If a minor league basketball setup can work, great. But, why should that have anything to do with a University? More importantly, why should the money a university spends on a coach, or a gym, or a field, or equipment, etc., be given to a minor league set up?


    • Gaskilldawg

      The universities would not be spending a dime more than anything they are already spending on. The universities would comp tuition, room, board and books just as the universities already do.


  9. CB

    If they can sustain long enough to sign some major recruits (which shouldn’t take long if the options are $0 or actual money), then the tv networks won’t be far behind.