Editor's note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Michael Beasley, who this offseason signed a one-year deal with the New York Knicks, has been vocal following the announcement of federal corruption charges against four NCAA assistant basketball coaches and an FBI investigation focused on corruption and fraud in college basketball.
Beasley was involved in a civil suit several years ago that alleged an AAU coach funneled him to an NBA agent. Beasley, who played collegiately at Kansas State, recently spoke with ESPN.com to expand on some of his recent comments:
What needs to change in the wake of the NCAA investigation?
Kids need to get paid. We work too hard in college, and they make too much money not to compensate us. It's like a quid pro quo kind of thing. It's got to be a symbiotic relationship. Right now, it's not.
Do you think paying athletes what they're worth to a program would solve the issues?
No kid should be worth more than any other kid. It should be a pot every year. Champions should get more, or [runners-up], but the bottom should get a significant amount of money to where everyone can live or eat comfortably. I'm not talking about money for clothes, or money for the new speakers in the cars. ... No, food and housing is literally all we long for and we're struggling and we're literally making the schools the most money.
Does something have to change with college recruitment?
A lot of those kids don't even know that they're getting paid -- like my situation. I was oblivious to it all until my former agent hit me with a check that was literally McDonald's bills way back when. You know? He should get his license pulled for that. Agents should get their licenses pulled for that. But we're attacking the kids, and the kids are innocent and oblivious. The kids are pure in all of this. A lot of these kids don't know what's going on because their parents are treating them like kids. I'm not sure what to do on the high school level, that's out of my game. That's out of my knowledge. I haven't been there in a long time. But it's not the kids' fault at all. ... If we stop looking at these kids like checks and looking at them with a whole heart, that will change a lot. Like, don't help the kid that's good, help the kid because you want to help the kid. Help everybody. Don't sit here and treat anybody better than anybody else -- that stinks, man.
So to sum things up, do you think paying players can clean this up?
Give kids what they deserve, simple as that. You can't make billions and literally look at us, selling our jerseys, selling our memorabilia, watching our games won, schools built and look at us and say we're supposed to be happy being broke. That doesn't make sense. It doesn't add up. ... That's not fair. It's not fair at all. Simple as that. You've got kids in school that -- I grew up in shelters and I grew up poor, my family grew up poor -- now if someone were to hand me some money, is it my fault for trying to take care of my family? Like, stop blaming the kids and stop f---ing working them like horses, man. That's all they're doing. That's all the NCAA is doing.
Are you hopeful things can change for the better in the aftermath of this investigation?
I hope things change for the better. I've got sons that are going to grow up in the process if they choose to play basketball, even if they choose to play football, even if they choose to play sports period. I got sons that are going to grow up in the process. By the time they get of age, yes I want it to be cleared up and yes I want it to be a whole-hearted situation. But like I said, one man can't change the world.
How the system is currently set up, is it forcing some coaches into these situations?
You mean like [former Kansas State and current South Carolina coach] Frank Martin? He's not. His case and his career proves that hard work works. They went to the Final Four last year with no All-Americans. It's out here, but y'all are just overlooking the good. Frank is one of the good guys out here and he's not the only one, but y'all just pay attention to what's going on negatively, which, I don't blame you. You've got to stop the illegal things going on. But like I said, there's good ones out here. You can't really judge the whole barrel by one bad apple.