NCAA president to Ben Simmons: Nobody forced you to go to college

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

In his new Showtime documentary One & Done, Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons says that for a surefire NBA player like himself, attending college for a year felt “like wasting time.”

That, naturally, did not sit well with NCAA president Mark Emmert.

“If someone wants to be a pro basketball player and doesn’t want to go to college, don’t go to college,” Emmert said, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate. “We don’t put a gun to your head.”

As for Simmons’ complaint about the one-and-done rule making the college experience “kind of pointless” since he can’t get a degree in two semesters, Emmert agrees. Yet he reminded the 76ers forward that the NCAA has nothing to do with the rule.

“That’s not our rule. That’s the NBA’s rule,” Emmert said. “But [Simmons says] it’s another stupid NCAA rule. The one-and-done rule is something I’ve made no secret about how much I dislike it. It makes a farce of going to school.

“I’d love nothing more than for the NBA to get rid of that rule. We’ve made it really clear to the (NBA) players’ union and the leadership of the NBA that we very much would like it changed.”

SB Nation’s Tom Ziller made a similar point: Simmons’ frustration should be directed at NBA owners and his fellow players. The one-and-done rule is not going anywhere because the NBA doesn’t want it gone and it’s not a priority for the NBA players’ union to fight to get rid of it. The two sides are close to agreeing on a new collective bargaining agreement that in all likelihood will keep the 19-year-old age minimum in place.

Yet the harm the one-and-done rule does was just one of the points Simmons made. The other — that college athletes are actually employees — is harder to disprove.

That’s a debate for another day, though.