Florida State basketball coach Leonard Hamilton 'concerned' about money trumping education for top players

Florida State basketball coach Leonard Hamilton ‘concerned’ about money trumping education for top players



Drastic shifts have occurred in NCAA athletics in recent years with the emergence of the NCAA transfer portal, NIL and — in the case of the basketball — alternative routes for top prospects out of high school. It’s a combination Florida State men’s basketball coach Leonard Hamilton says is giving him and other coaches pause about the future of collegiate athletics.

“I don’t know where we are going to go,” Hamilton said during an appearance on ESPN’s Bald Men on Campus podcast. “I’m more concerned about the future. If you remember years ago — and we were really concentrating on APR and graduation rates. And we had guys lose their jobs and couldn’t go to the NCAA Tournament because they weren’t handling their academic business. Then we had the limited phone calls and guys losing their jobs because of they were calling too many kids too much. Now we can call as much as we want to. We had guys lose their jobs because they violated rules in terms of maybe doing some things that were illegal, and now we can go out and the kids can make as much money as possible.

“It just seems to me we having something going on here. We have the Overtime League kids can go to straight from high school. You can go from high school to G League. We have the NIL where we don’t know where we are For coaches, it’s hard for us to comment because we don’t want to make people think we don’t want kids who are elite athletes to have the opportunity to realize their dream … We have to provide a path for them , those elite guys, to be special.”

With the emergence of the NCAA transfer portal, roster retention is more difficult than ever in college basketball. While many argue it gives equal flexibility to players as coaches who change jobs, Hamilton was quick to shoot down that comparison, and voiced concerns about the portal’s impact on how much players are valuing a college education.

“Now you have the transfer portal where you can transfer, and the argument has been coaches can leave and go where they want to go, but the players are restricted,” Hamilton said.”I look at that and go just because the CEO at Chrysler and takes the job at Chevrolet doesn’t mean all their people can leave, too. Most of the time when you sign a contract, you have a buyout and restrictions. That no longer exists. Kids can go where they want to, but coaches cannot push them out. I worry there is more emphasis now on making money than there is on education. And the people who are making those decisions are educated, have professional jobs and want their children to be educated.

“But with these elite athletes somewhere — somewhere along the line, we’re more concerned with the elite athletes to have an opportunity to be elite athletes, and we’re kind of not talking about education at all … it’s hard for me to look into this crystal ball and see where we’re going to be eight or nine years from now, but it’s all going on at the same time and is creating a lot of anxiety for all of us.”

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Hamilton, 73, has served as FSU’s men’s basketball coach since 2002. The Seminoles have won 417 games under his watch, and won the ACC regular season title in 2020. The ACC Tournament was not completed, and NCAA Tournament was not held that year due to COVID-19. Florida State reached the Elite Eight under his watch in 2018.

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