SI: What’s your response to the schools that say: This is going to turn into an arms race, and sorry, we don’t have $5,000 worth of computer equipment and iPhones and other educational benefits to bestow on our students, we just don’t have the resources?
JK: So, it’s an argument that sounds good, and makes absolutely no factual sense. And, the reason is, that arms race exists today. It exists when Alabama pays each of its strength and conditioning coaches $550,000 per year. It exists when these schools spend $150 million on some palaces for the athletes to live by themselves and have their own billiard rooms and gold-plated locker rooms, of which you can’t possibly imagine. There is no equality of competition in college sports now. There are the rich and there are the not rich. And, that’s not going to change today. But what will change is instead of Nick Saban making $11 million, maybe he’ll only make $9 million and the athletes will benefit from the difference.
SI: What excess did you come across that offended you the most?
JK: The spending is not what offended me the most. What offended me the most in this record is how the athletes are treated. It’s the fact that the average BCS football players and Division I basketball players work more than 50 hours a week for their schools, before they attend a single class. That they’re told not to pursue majors or classes that they’re interested in because it will conflict with the team. That their first priority is to support their team, not to be students. And then they come in and say, “Oh but we can’t let you have any benefits because you won’t be integrated as students in the campus.” It is so offensive. It is so exploitative. And let’s not forget that the majority of football and Division I basketball players are students of color. That’s what offends me the most.
“But what will change is instead of Nick Saban making $11 million, maybe he’ll only make $9 million and the athletes will benefit from the difference.” Ditto for the administrators. That’s what the amateurism fight has been about. Despite the money rolling in, the suits don’t want to share. They never have.