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College sports look a whole lot different than they did just a few years ago. And Charles Barkley, for one, is not a fan.
“This whole college thing right now, we have just totally, totally f-cked it up,” the former NBA star said.
On The Bill Simmons Podcast this week, Barkley dished his thoughts on the changing face of college athletics. In his opinion, the line between collegiate and pro sports has become increasingly blurred.
“Between realignment, between NIL, the transfer portal, I don’t understand. I just don’t understand how in the world we screwed up this situation.”
Instituted in July 2021, NIL rules allow student-athletes to earn money for their name, image and likeness. And new transfer portal rules now allow for transfers to be immediately eligible to play.
“There’s only a couple of these guys that are going to go pro,” Barkley said. “So, the other 99.9% get to go to college and get a free education. Which I think is a really, really big deal. And between the three things I mentioned — conference realignment, NIL and the transfer portal — I don’t know how this thing’s gonna turn out.”
Charles Barkley Discusses ‘Sad State of Affairs’
Conference realignment has been a huge source of contention over the past month as schools have been changing affiliations to get more money from TV and other media companies.
Earlier this month, most of the Pac-12 jumped ship for other conferences. Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah all joined the Big 12. USC and UCLA are headed to the Big Ten.
Now, the Pac-12 Conference is functionally dead. And cross-country trips for conference games will become a regular occurrence.
“It’s really sad and unfortunate. It really is because you know all these programs going to start cutting sports at some point. Having kids fly across the country and miss multiple days of school,” Barkley said. “That’s not a good thing.”
Whether Chuck likes it or not, though, college sports have changed, and they’re not going back.
And it all comes down to cold, hard cash.
“Nothing shocks me when it comes to money. Nothing shocks me,” Barkley said. “If money is involved, people are going to find a way to make it or steal it. Plain and simple. Especially when it comes to sports. It’s really a sad state of affairs, and I don’t know how you’re going to fix it.”