You could make the case that the 2023 Men’s NCAA Tournament has been one of the most thrilling and exciting in years, thanks in large part to historic upsets, shocking results, and a Final Four that seems to defy logic.
Unless you’re a fan of the traditional blue bloods, it’s everything you want the NCAA Tournament to be and a testament to the fact that college basketball has reached a point of parity that is arguably unmatched in decades.
But don’t tell any of that to Charles Barkley. The basketball legend’s interview with 60 Minutes reporter Jon Wertheim aired on Sunday following yet another day of shocking tourney results. His message to the world about the state of college basketball It’s a “disgrace” because of NIL and player compensation.
Charles Barkley picked the wrong weekend to complain about how college basketball is becoming a landscape dominated by only a handful of teams. pic.twitter.com/D0aEW0fpYc
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 27, 2023
“It’s a travesty and a disgrace. I’m so mad now how we can mess up something that’s so beautiful,” said Barkley. “We can’t pay all these players.”
The Hall of Famer added that he sees college basketball turning into a landscape where only a handful of teams dominate the sport as if that wasn’t the state of college basketball for the previous 50 years (See: Final Four, 2022).
“In the next 3-5 years, we’re gonna have 25 schools that’s gonna dominate the sport cause they can afford players. And these schools that can’t afford, or won’t pay players, are gonna be irrelevant.”
There’s no doubt that NIL, the transfer portal, and the constant shuffling of players and coaches have forever changed the landscape of college sports. And there are likely to be ways that college basketball is impacted in the coming years that we haven’t quite foreseen.
However, there’s a certain silliness that Barkley’s comments take on as they come the same weekend that we got a Final Four that will include zero McDonald’s All-Americans and zero Top-30 recruits.
All of those schools that can afford players will be at home watching FAU, San Diego State, UConn, and Miami next weekend. So much for dominating the sport.