By Evan Bleier / March 18, 2019

“It’s a Cesspool”: Dick Vitale Calls on the NCAA to Pay Players

The longtime ESPN broadcaster also shared his picks for this year's NCAA tourney.

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 14:  Commentator Dick Vitale looks on before action between the Boston Celtics and the LA Clippers at TD Garden on February 14, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 14: Commentator Dick Vitale looks on before action between the Boston Celtics and the LA Clippers at TD Garden on February 14, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

Each year, the annual men’s NCAA basketball tournament generates hundreds of millions of dollars for the schools that take part in it.

The players who actually play the games in March Madness get none of it.

In a new interview with Esquirelongtime ESPN college hoops broadcaster Dick Vitale actually ripped into the organization and the sport which has made him a household name each March.

Calling the NCAA “a cesspool,” Vitale used Zion Williamson, the consensus top pick in the NBA draft, as an example of why the NCAA needs to start paying its student-athletes.

“Take a look at Zion,” he said. “Why shouldn’t he play and get paid? It’s a cesspool—guys hustling kids, hustling dollars. Let me tell you this: We can solve that in a heartbeat. A kid like Zion, let him be allowed to get those dollars. He can make appearances, he can endorse a product. We got a tournament going on, and everyone’s making millions. Let those kids be able to benefit! It eliminates all that dirty stuff that goes on behind the scenes, and it’s there. Let’s face it. You’ve got coaches getting fired for taking bribes, or to make believe and lie on an application that the kid’s an athlete. It’s a cesspool! And it’s just ridiculous and absurd.”

In a similar take, Vitale also took a shot at the NBA’s age limit (19) which prevents players from leaving high school to go straight to The Association.

“If a kid wants to go to the NBA, and that’s his dream, that’s his goal, and the NBA wants him, why not?” Vitale said. “Why do we make a kid go to school for a year or two? And in many cases, you know, they don’t want to be there. The term “student-athlete” becomes almost a joke. So let them go on and make their millions.”