Kylia Carter, mother of Duke star and NBA Draft prospect Wendell Carter, spoke Monday at a meeting of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, and she did not hold back.

In a scathing, emotional speech, Carter compared the NCAA to slavery and the prison system, pointing out that those in charge of college sports profit off unpaid labor.

When I pull back the layers, the problem that I see is not with the athletes, it’s not with the coaches at the institutions of higher learning, but it’s with a system like the only system I have ever seen where the laborer are the only people who are not being compensated for the work that they do, while those in charge receive mighty compensation. The only two systems where I’ve known that to be in place is slavery and the prison system. And now I see the NCAA as overseers of a system that is identical to that. And so it’s very difficult for me to be able to sit here and not say that there is a problem that is sickening, but the problem, I believe, is not being directed in the right place.

Here’s video, via ESPN:

Any comparison to slavery will always rub some people the wrong way, but a little hyperbole shouldn’t detract from Carter’s broader point that, “the talent is being purchased, but the talented are not receiving any of the benefit.”

Carter, who played basketball at Ole Miss in the late 1990s, also had strong thoughts about the idea that the college-sports experience is actually all about academics. Via ESPN:

“You tell me it’s about education, and we’re giving you this fabulous education for your son to come to school here, so you’re paying him with the education for his talent,” she said. “If that’s what you’re paying him — you’re paying him with education — why aren’t you making sure he gets it? Why aren’t you assigning somebody to him so if he is a one-and-done, why didn’t you automatically assign him an academic advisor so that when he leaves he’s got someone in his ear talking to him about the value of that education he left behind? Wendell doesn’t have that problem because I’m going to be there like a jackhammer, but all of the other kids, the thing you pay them to come to your school and do, most of them don’t ever get it.”

Carter clearly feels quite strongly about this issue, and she’s certainly not alone. Not long ago, these types of thoughts existed on the fringe of public opinion. Now, 40 percent of Americans believe college athletes deserve compensation beyond their scholarships.

The college sports establishment is no longer Carter’s problem, per se, as Wendell has declared for the NBA Draft and could be a top-10 pick. But Kylia sees a problem, and she seems damn committed to solving it.


About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.