Jay Bilas launched his most successful campaign against NCAA hypocrisy to date earlier this week when he revealed a little problem with the associations online store. Bilas exposed that when you typed in the name of a star athlete, such as Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, these results came up:
This is despite the fact that jersey’s sold on the NCAA’s website are not technically supposed to be connected to a specific player, hence why there are no names on any of the jerseys. The NCAA disabled the search function after news of the discovery by Bilas began to spread around the internet, but the damage had already been done.
Facing intense scrutiny over once again being caught profiting from the sale of an athlete’s image, NCAA president Mark Emmert announced on Thursday that the NCAA would no longer sell individual jerseys on its website. Emmert did make an attempt to plead innocence in the matter claiming, “It’s been done for a long time, so I can’t tell you when and [how] long it’s been doing it.” (source)
This reveal by Bilas comes on the heels of the announcement by the NCAA that they are looking into claims that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel profited by selling signed merchandise to broker’s. (link) Despite increasing criticism from outsiders following the Manziel case, and the NCAA shop debacle, Wake Forest president and NCAA Division 1 board of directors chairman Nathan Hatch said he stand’s by the NCAA approach to amateurism stating: “I think the way we’ve done that is the correct way. I think the rules that we have I agree with.” (source) Emmert supported Hatch, saying he agreed both with his statements, and with similar statements made by Lou Anna Simon, president of Michigan State University, and chairwoman of the NCAA executive committee.
Many feel the discovery made by Bilas could help the case of Ed O’Bannon, and other former collegiate athletes who are attempting to file a federal class action lawsuit against the NCAA, Electronic Arts, and Collegiate Licensing Co. The athletes in the lawsuit claim their names and likeness’ have been used illegally in video games and on broadcasts, because they have received no compensation for the usage.
The NCAA is coming to a crossroads, and will soon have to make some important decisions in regards to athlete compensation. The status quo of not letting student athlete’s profit from their own name in any way, while the NCAA and it’s member institutions make millions of dollars on them every year will not hold for much longer. It seem’s that just paying college athletes is far too complicated. It doesn’t really make sense to pay Manziel the same amount as member’s of the women’s golf team, or even the third string quarterback on his own team. So how could compensation possibly be fairly decided? Personally, I support the Olympic model that many people favor, where the athletes are allowed to profit their own name and popularity. Most people would even let the NCAA to back to selling jersey’s if the athletes had the same opportunity to profit.
This problem isn’t going away, and the NCAA’s position is becoming less and less popular by the day. The NCAA has to realize that it can’t keep its athlete’s captive in a machine where everyone is making money but the star’s of the show. A change is coming, hopefully the NCAA realizes this before it’s too late.
Finally, in some kind of related news, Johnny Manziel’s parents have put their College Station house on the market. (source) Needless to say, Manziel’s time at Texas A&M has had more than a few bumps in the road. This latest story about selling autograph’s is just the most recent in a troubled stay for Manziel, and it looks like his stay will definitely be coming to an end after this season. Manziel red-shirted his freshmen year, and thus will fit the NFL’s rule that you must be out of high school for three years before entering the draft.
However, for any Texas A&M fans feeling depressed about the lack of “Johnny football” in their life, Manziel’s lawyer feels confident that he will be on the field for A&M this season (source), so you still have some time to celebrate before you say goodbye.