Rick Pitino sees the fabrics of college basketball crumbling and wants to help fix it.
Writing on X on Tuesday morning, the 71-year-old St. John’s head coach proposed a salary cap.
“Ok – we all want solutions to preserve our great game,” Pitino tweeted.
“Today I’m going to suggest solution one: For basketball – have the Power 5 & Big East conference commissioners get together and create a salary cap between 1.5 n 2.0 million.”
He explained the protocols of how everyone would handle the reporting of player signings.
“All contracts delivered to the league and school offices,” Pitino continued.
“All other conferences establish their own salary cap. I would never exclude anyone from the NCAA tournament. Obviously football is a different sport entirely and some of their talent makes more than NFL players. More solutions to follow in the coming days.”
While college basketball still has great connections with regional fan bases, a lot of the national star power in the sport has dissipated over the last 30 years as the most talented players pass through for one season — at most.
With that in mind, if college basketball did opt for a salary cap, $1.5-2 million a year seems a bit low for a whole team.
NCAA Tournament rights alone run about $1 billion per year, and that revenue is before regular season, conference tournaments, and the attendance gate.
Perhaps with a robust salary cap, college basketball could compete on the margins for NBA talents who aren’t going to get big-money rookie deals.
Right now, there is a seemingly unsustainable wild west in NIL, where players are allowed to receive endorsement money, but the schools, athletics departments and coaches are technically prohibited from administering or facilitating the deals.
This has devolved into a situation where the NCAA is occasionally enforcing the rules while most observers suspect that nearly every major program is skirting them at least a little bit.
Over the weekend, Pitino spoke about the lawlessness at play.
“It’s a very difficult time in college basketball because it’s free agency and now I think what’s going to happen is [the NCAA is] going to say everybody can transfer,” Pitino said.
“If they don’t like it, they’re going to take them to court. I think the NCAA enforcement staff should be disbanded, not because I dislike them, but they’re of no value at all. “The enforcement staff needs to go away. We need to stop all the hypocrisy of NIL.
“Need to stop it because they can’t stop it. Whether I’m for or against it, it doesn’t matter.”