“The problem that I see is not with the student-athlete, it’s not with the coaches and the institutions of higher learning,” Kylia Carter, mother of NBA draft hopeful Wendell Carter Jr., tells the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics Monday, May 7. “But it’s with a system like the only system I have ever seen where the laborers are the only people that are not being compensated for the work that they do, while those in charge receive mighty compensation, The only two systems where I’ve known that to be in place is slavery and the prison system, and now I see the NCAA as overseers of a system that is identical to that.”
According to The Charlotte Observer, Carter, who herself was a college basketball player at the University of Mississippi, added that it appeared to be “an attempt to legalize purchasing people.”
“When you pull back everything, you want to find a way to legally purchase the talent of an athlete and not compensate him for it financially,” she adds. “Compensate him by affording him an education that he did not ask for and giving that to him and telling him it will be beneficial to him when the talent is all you wanted from him anyway. When you pull back everything, that’s all this is. How do we purchase this talent and not compensate the player?”
Carter’s son averaged 13.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game in this season with Duke. Wendell Carter is one of four freshmen who declared for June’s NBA Draft; he’s expected to be an early first-round pick.
And while Carter is pleased her son chose Duke despite her and her husband’s initial hope he’d got to Harvard, she said it was “nauseating” to be accused of having lunch with agent Christian Dawkin, who was arrested by the FBI. The agency is investigating college basketball corruption.
Despite the current issues, Carter said she and her husband were thrilled to hear that their son wanted to be a professional basketball player as a third grader. Yet teachers ridiculed him for his career of choice. Later on, Carter said, “we began to learn what it meant to be a professional basketball player and what it really was for your child to be a part of this association.”
As for why she’s speaking out now, Carter said she felt the urge to “because of the families that have been affected that look like my son and me and our family.” She also felt shame over her disbelief in Black friends at Ole Miss who said they’d get food tossed at them.
But the basketball mom, whose Elevate2Educate program with her husband helps young athletes and their families prepare to earn a scholarship and go pro, isn’t just explaining the issues. She has solutions, too.
For one, Carter said the NCAA should fund more travel for immediate family to attend their children’s games and allow schools to offer two-year degrees that prepare athletes for the pros. She’d also like to see a not-for-profit organization help families prepare their sons for the sports business and teach them how to manage their wealth.