Author Joe Nocera Circles Back to UConn

New York Times columnist visited the school Tuesday to talk about his new book Indentured.

JoeNoceraIndenturedCoverOne of the sparks for New York Times columnist Joe Nocera’s book Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA was an incident involving the mother of University of Connecticut basketball star Ryan Boatright (Class of 2015). Tuesday, Nocera was back on campus to chat with journalism students and others about the Feb. 16 release.

Among those in the audience was Morgan Tuck, senior forward on the UConn women’s basketball team. Per a report in student newspaper The Daily Campus, her presence sparked an interesting exchange:

“If we were to go pro, we need to be able to complete four years of college,” Tuck said. “You can’t enter into the WNBA draft until your high school graduating class has graduated college.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Nocera replied. “They shouldn’t be able to do that.”

Nocera went on to accuse the NCAA of institutional racism, treating investigations into black athletes differently than investigations into white athletes. “The NCAA is suspicious of black kids in a way that they’re not suspicious of white kids. That’s just a fact,” Nocera said. “I think race is an important component here. I would love it if some black professional athletes would start speaking about this, because I know that they think about this…That could be a very powerful driver of change.”

UConn president Susan Herbst, who also attended the Tuesday afternoon lecture event, suggested that the disparate nature of the schools sitting on the NCAA board makes effectuating change difficult. But she added she was proud of the UConn athletes who chose to attend Nocera’s reading.

Jacket cover courtesy: Portfolio