I’m going to go out on a bit of a limb here and assume you are aware of Johnny Manziel. Oddly enough, a year ago at this time very few people outside of College Station, Texas had heard of him. Amazing how things can change over the course of one year huh?
In that one year, Manziel led his Texas A&M Aggies to an upset of number one Alabama. The only loss the eventual national champions would suffer. Manziel went on to blow out Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl and of course win the Heisman Trophy. Along the way, he became quite the media and social media sensation and not all of it was good.
It seemed like it was only a matter of time before Manziel screwed up and did something that caught the eye of the NCAA. That time is now upon us as Manziel is alleged to have signed autographs and then took money as payment from as many as three different memorabilia brokers. While there is video of Manziel signing the footballs, helmets etc., there is no video of him accepting any type of payment whether it be cash, a check or a lap dance from a co-ed.
The NCAA is in trouble people. What Manziel may or may not have done has drawn an amazing amount of attention not just to him but the NCAA as a whole for their ridiculous rules that mandate a college athlete cannot make money off of his or her own name.
It got so bad for the NCAA that former Duke basketball player and ESPN college analyst Jay Bilas basically went on a one-man crusade via Twitter to call out the hypocritical organization. Bilas pointed out that Manziel couldn’t make a dime from his name yet the NCAA was selling Manziel’s jersey from its’ very website aming money on his name.
The NCAA has since declined to sell such merchandise.
The bigger issue of course is how should college athletes be allowed to make money? It’s an absolute shame that these kids who bring in millions to their respective universities can’t even accept a pizza from a roommate’s parents. Part of the argument centers around the money-making athletes versus those sports that make significantly less money. Should the kid who rarely sees the floor for North Carolina basketball get as much of a ‘stipend’ as the star running back? Should the best player on Baylor’s Women’s’ Basketball Team make more money than a woman on the golf team?
Our capitalist society dictates that the answer is ‘no.’ If South Carolina packs in 90,000 people for a football game while across campus the swim team is hosting a dual meet in front of 625 fans; our economic system tells us the football players deserve more because they earn more for the school.
If only it were that simple right? Who is going to sign more autographs after the respective games? Jadaveon Clowney or the top swimmer for the Gamecocks?
Another argument is the age old “they get these full scholarships. Isn’t that enough payment considering there are thousands on campus who leave with a degree and $200,000 in school loan debt?” It’s really apples and oranges when you think about it and that’s why a simple fix is not going to happen.
The situation reminds me of the famous Babe Ruth quote from so long ago when he was in Chicago to play a game. Not surprisingly, Ruth went into a local speakeasy for a drink and notorious mobster Al Capone was in the back. Despite friends telling him not to go, Ruth wanted to meet Capone and vice-versa.
Ruth had recently signed the most lucrative contract in pro sports history and after chatting, Capone said to Ruth, “Babe, you make more money than the President!” Ruth replied, “I had a better year than he did.”
This same idea applies to the different college athletic programs. Would people rather pay to see Babe Ruth work or to see the President work? In other words, would fans rather pay to see Clowney against Florida or see the top swimmer against Kentucky?
You can’t keep these kids from making money on their own names. Manziel may be an idiot at times, but he didn’t take a car from a local dealer and didn’t get paid thousands to wear Nike when the rest of the team wears Adidas.
The first step the NCAA should take in changing policy is electing Jay Bilas to its’ presidency. It won’t fix every problem overnight, but it would be a quick fix wouldn’t it?