"First of all, 1999-2003, in that period we had four players leave early to go to the pros. They are all still playing professionally," Williams said on the "Dan Patrick Show." "They haven't come back and gotten their degrees yet. Hopefully, they will. But they've made millions and millions of dollars during that time that they left. In other words, they didn't have their degree, but it all depends on how you measure success in your life."
It is a sentiment Duncan disagrees with. "The overall majority of these players will never go on to make a dime playing basketball. They're making money for their universities and they're gonna have nothing to show for it," said Duncan to ABC News.
Williams said that he's proud of his school's graduation rate and added that the University of Maryland spends more than $1 million every year to support student-athletes' academics.
Another school in the NCAA tournament has found academic success for its players with a much smaller budget and the help of one hard-nosed nun. At Xavier University in Ohio, 77-year-old academic adviser Sister Rose Ann Fleming has supported the school's men's basketball players since 1985. Under her guidance, all 77 players who have competed as seniors have graduated from the university.
"Every team, every program around the country has an academic adviser. That's their job," said Xavier coach Chris Mack. "It's not Sister's job, it's her passion."
To Fleming, it all boils down to a team's priorities.
"My job is to make sure we don't waste the opportunity to also get a degree," she said.
Fleming makes all players attend 10 hours of study hall every week, two hours per day on top of their regular practice. She gets support from the team's coaches, and student-athletes who come to Xavier know they're expected to perform both on the court and in the classroom.
Xavier center Jason Love has come to appreciate Fleming's full-court press for grades. He's set to graduate from the university this year.
"She's really hard on you, but at the same time, you know she's a gentle lady," Love said. "She really cares about where you go after basketball."