What Does It Mean?
Academics, the classification of ideas, and semantics, the classification of meanings, are indistinguishable.
As a bold statement, it’s a good thing it has an ironclad, foolproof reasoning behind it, shown via thought experiment.
What would happen if you, say, insultingly and infuriatingly and in the company of a professor, said that academics and semantics are the same? If as an academic the professor agrees, you could cite his assenting analysis at face value.
If the professor instead becomes excitable, you can whittle him down rather easily into a discussion, argument or fracas about what you actually mean by semantics, and the implications of such a statement, and what it might mean for other definitions of academia.
Either way, the point is vindicated. The only counterstrategy that I immediately see involves the professor not saying anything at all, an unlikely gambit. I’d rather hold my breath for the Second Coming.