In “One and Done”, a forthcoming Showtime documentary about the current state of elite college athletics, Philadelphia 76ers rookie Ben Simmons reportedly rips the NCAA for profiting off his ability, and says that he was offered free luxury cars and a house during his one season at LSU.
Simmons, who is Australian, was the consensus no. 1 draft pick before his first game as a freshman at LSU.
During his one season in Baton Rouge, however, Simmons said he felt exploited by the NCAA and its amateurism policies.
“The NCAA is really f—ed up,” Simmons said on “One and Done,” a film that will air on Showtime on Friday night. “Everybody’s making money except the players. We’re the ones waking up early as hell to be the best teams and do everything they want us to do and then the players get nothing. They say education, but if I’m there for a year, I can’t get much education.”
Although he was one of the best players in college basketball during his one year at LSU, Simmons did not qualify for the Wooden Award’s final list because he did not meet the 2.0 GPA cutoff. Similarly, he missed time during the season because he missed a class. But as Simmons reportedly says in the documentary, it was extremely hard to incentivise going to class when he knew he would shortly be departing for the NBA.
“[Coach] Jones said, ‘We need to make up a punishment if you miss another class,'” Simmons said. “I missed my next class about preparing for better study habits. I’m going to the NBA next season. Why bull—- if it’s not going to help me?”
Simmons continued, holding no punches against the NCAA:
“The NCAA is messed up,” Simmons said. “I don’t have a voice. … I don’t get paid to do it. Don’t say I’m an amateur and make me take pictures and sign stuff and go make hundreds of thousands of millions of dollars off one person. … I’m going off on the NCAA. Just wait, just wait. I can be a voice for everybody in college. I’m here because I have to be here [at LSU]. … I can’t get a degree in two semesters, so it’s kind of pointless. I feel like I’m wasting time.”
In the film, Simmons also reportedly says that he was offered a “Bentley, a Wraith Rolls-Royce, watches, jewellery, a house … anything. It literally is anything. People coming at you, offering you things.”
Simmons did not say who offered him these gifts.
Ultimately, the debate over amateurism in Division I college athletics is nothing new. The argument that the NCAA and its defenders will posit is the one the always do: Simmons was compensated because he received a full ride to LSU.
And while it’s easy to think that getting rid of the one-and-done rule will solve these problems, remember that it was the NBA, not the NCAA, who changed the rule in the first place.