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Rick Pitino Proposes Salary Cap for College Basketball in Light of Dartmouth Decision

  • Pitino said a salary cap should exist for Power 5 schools plus the Big East.
  • He wants NIL contracts submitted to both schools and conferences.
Rick Pitino
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Rick Pitino, who is never afraid to give his opinion, offered a solution to the current state of college basketball: create a salary cap. 

The St. John’s coach took to X (the app formerly known as Twitter) on Tuesday and suggested the commissioners of all Power 5 schools plus the Big East, which the Red Storm are a member of, come up with a salary cap between $1.5 and $2 million for all NIL deals. Pitino is being sent to both the school and the league. Pitino, 71, added that each conference could come up with their own salary cap and added he wouldn’t exclude teams from the NCAA tournament. Apparently, he’s not done with his ideas, closing his tweet by saying, “More solutions to follow in the coming days.” 

The Hall of Fame coach is not the first person to call for NIL regulation, nor will he be the last. Demands for some form of regularity have existed since NIL went mainstream and players have commanded deals that, in some cases, rival those of pro athletes. Pitino’s proposed salary cap number is on par with what anonymous coaches told CBS Sports last year, which is roughly the cost in NIL for a player out of the transfer portal. 

The CBS poll found roughly 40% of high-major starters command an average of $250,000 in NIL deals. Going off Pitino’s proposed numbers, a Power 5 school could hypothetically pay up to eight players (or almost a full basketball rotation) the market rate, which gives some rationale to Pitino’s idea. 
Pitino’s tweet comes a day after the National Labor Relations Board ruled members of Dartmouth’s men’s basketball team are employees of the school after they petitioned to be recognized by a local union. The decision is another blow to the NCAA’s amateurism model amid uncertainty regarding the future of college sports.

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