I'd like to think the whole article is worth reading, but here's a quick summary: This may sound like a good idea, especially paper. First, it would punish the wrong people...current players, rather than coaches and administrators who brought in these titular student-athletes who are now long gone. As I have argued many times before, schools should do their level best to increase graduation rates, but it must do so without gaming the system (e.g. steering athletes to easier majors, "over" tutoring, etc.). As we learned from the NCAA's APR, it turned out that most well-heeled athletic programs did the best job making the "cut rate" in order to avoid losing scholarships.
I also address the 410,000 student-athlete ruse, which often muddies the argument. Yes, the vast majority of college athletes are amateurs. They play for the love the game--and they uphold the amateur ideal. Just as important, for these athletes, athletic programs strike a healthy balance between academics and athletics. Then there's basketball and football, where the vast percentage of economic incentives supports winning at just about any cost. These players are hardly amateurs in any sense of that made-up term.
I do think that basketball and football players deserve to be paid. That does not mean they should be rolling in dough. Maybe $4,000-5,000 a year stipend so they can focus on school and sports, rather then worry about money.
Walter Lamkin commented that "many of these kids, especially at Division I football and basketball powerhouses are recruited off the mean streets of America's cities. They arrive often in an idyllic setting foreign to them, trying to blend into the overall student body. It sounds good, but how do some of them go out for a pizza on Friday night? How can they take a friend to the movies? Or even get home for Thanksgiving? I don't defend repugnant behavior, legal or otherwise, but I can understand the frustration of college athletes who don't have even a subsistence level for daily life. They collectively bring in billions of dollars to their respective instituions and a mere pittance, crumbs as it were, are tossed their way. I suggest that each athlete be means-tested each year, much the same as those applying for financial aid, and at certain levels they should receive a stipend in order to had a chance at a 'normal' student life."
Hey, paying athletes might also slow down the basketball underground, which I often cite when describing how the basketball economy works. I also think there should be a fund set aside from marketing revenue generated by football and basketball. This fund can be an incentive to graduate: If you graduate within a reasonable window (say 8 years), they'll be a pot of gold waiting for you. Everybody wins. Not enough money to fund this? Keep spinning.
Walker invested $10 million in Chicago real estate with a "old friend named Fred Billings." Walker admits he did not really know much about Billings, even though he knew him for 10 years. Said Walker, "We spent a lotta time together. Hanging out. He was kinda like a part of the crew...It cost me not going out there and handling it myself."
According to Schwarz's reporting: "Billings did not pay mortgages, hired untrained workers to make illegal repairs and is awaiting trial in Cook County for his alleged involvement in a mortgage scam. He has been charged with 13 felony counts of fraud, forgery and theft."
Unfortunately, Walker faces serious charges that he was a slumlord.
Walker now recognizes that real estate is a serious business, not something you completely entrust to others: "I probably should not have ventured into businesss until I got out of my [basketball] career."
Walker on his lifestyle and helping others
"I am not going to sugarcoat it. I lived a very expensive lifestyle. I took care of my family. I was very generous to my family and my friends...In the beginning of my career I kind of thought it was my obligation. I thought it was kind of my calling. 'OK, I make this amount of money. My job is to give back.'"
On "helping" friends and family It was very hard for me to say 'no' to people when they come ask me for something," Walker said. "A lot of friends I grew up with would have a business venture and hit me with a sob story and I would say 'yes,' and I got burned a lot of times that way. People say 'I need to borrow $200,000 for this deal and I'll give it back to you,' and then I never hear from them."
Margaret Johnson, former girlfriend and mother of one of Walker's children
"He has a big heart. He became addicted to gambling and he ran through millions taking care of more than 50 people who are nowhere to be found now that he needs the help.
Kenny Anderson on family
"Family can be your worst enemy. Family was mine. Not going to say no to mine...You know you got a 5-6 year deal and you think this thing is going to last forever. It just snowballs. Everybody's asking; everybody's taking. You got to find a way to say no."
Pitino in 1999 on Walker
Rick Pitino, who coached Walker at UK and the Celtics, made this unprophetic remark when Walker signed a maximum six-year, $71 million deal with Boston in 1999: "[Antoine Walker] will never have to worry about money again in his life."
Pitino today on Walker
"I didn't factor in poor investments. I didn't factor in gambling. I didn't factor in recklessness of spending."
Pitino's advice: "All the cars need to be sold. The houses need to be sold. Liquidate everything. Don't try and live a foolish way and hold on to them. It's over. That lifestyle is over."
Watch the feature. Twice if you're a pro athlete.
Let's hope Antoine can get out of this mountain of debt, although the avalanche of lawsuits will make it difficult. Walker rates a mention in the next edition of Money Players, in the chapter on "A trip down (bad) memory lane." This chapter is unfortunately getting longer.