[The Athletic] - This all weighed on Robinson in the days immediately following Michigan’s 2018 Elite Eight win over Florida State. He doesn’t want to reveal names, but in that window, he approached two teammates. Let’s skip the open practice. He laid it on the table: This was an opportunity to make a statement.
“And it kind of turned out … they didn’t need that much convincing,” Robinson said. “Then it kind of snowballed.”
“All it takes is one misguided soundbite for the media to shape an entire narrative that we’re not really about the thing that we’re trying to push or that we’re standing for,” Robinson said. “That was kind of the risk that we were really running. I started to feel that this is kind of dangerous and this could kind of start to take on a life that we don’t necessarily want it to.”
So I remember rumors of this circulating within the college basketball world back in the day, but it seemed way more far-fetched than this. I can't imagine the reaction there would have been if the Final Four open practices were just straight up boycotted so the players could make a point. Think of who was all there too.
Michigan - one of the richest athletic departments in the country
Villanova - won a national title just two years prior
Kansas - an absolute blue blood program
Loyola (Chicago) - well, they were there
But if you threw in a mid-major like Loyola to go with those 3 major programs it would show what the majority of people think. College athletes deserve the opportunity to be compensated with more than a scholarship. I've said it a million times now. Schools paying them with a scholarship is plenty from the school itself. But let them make money on name, image and likeness. Let the free market dictate what players are worth. That shouldn't be capped at just a scholarship and everything that entails. Schools are making way too much money on sports alone.
But back to the Final Four. We're seeing the major effect of not having the NCAA Tournament this year. It's a major hit for schools. Again, it just shows that players are bringing in money for the schools. It would have been awesome to see them boycott the open practices (which are really irrelevant and as Duncan says, just for fans to pack the arena for no reason). It's not like you're seeing them run the 2-guard offense and draw up a gameplan.
It would 100% be the biggest story in college sports too. We've never seen a true boycott like this, even for something as small as an open practice. But if you had a united front of all 4 programs and players from all programs sitting out it would force people to start talking about NIL and advancing the talks even more. You have to force the NCAA's hand in this.
Like Duncan says, I hope 4 teams have the balls to do this one day. Don't skip the Final Four, just boycott the open practice.