by Dr. Boyce Watkins
Professor Billy Hawkins of The University of Georgia has released a controversial new book that describes the experiences of NCAA athletes by comparing them to slaves on a plantation. According to the research of professor Hawkins, black athletes are exploited by the NCAA physically, financially and intellectually.
Hawkins cites the massive revenue earned by the NCAA via March Madness, which includes a 14-year, $10.8 billion contract with CBS sports. In spite of seemingly unlimited revenues to encourage athletes to stay focused academically, Hawkins notes that nearly one-fifth of the 64 teams participating in the NCAA tournament had graduation rates of less than 40 percent. Across the 36 sports monitored by the NCAA, men's basketball has the lowest graduation rates, where less than two-thirds of the players earn degrees.
The dismal graduation numbers for the NCAA support Dr. Hawkins' research, in which he argues and shows that black athletes at predominantly white institutions are being exploited while being neglected academically. In his book, "The New Plantation," the well-respected Professor of Sport Management and Policy uses a plantation model to present the black male athletic experience as part of a broader historical context.