It’s Mark Emmert’s world, student-athletes. You’re just living in it.

If you think that Mark Emmert’s magic is made up of equal parts of arrogance, self-righteousness and selfishness, this article about revenue generated by collegiate apparel sales won’t do anything to dispel your belief.

First, the arrogance.

… Although Robinson’s name is not on the back of the jersey, it’s clear fans are buying it because he’s the most marketable player on the team. Yet Robinson sees no money from those sales, as NCAA president Mark Emmert says it should be.

“They didn’t come to college because there was financial gain involved,” Emmert told CNBC. “They came because they wanted to come to school and to participate in sports. If they choose to become pros after that, that’s all well and good, but this is not about creating new opportunities for them to monetize their position.”

How does he know what’s on the mind of every college kid?  We live in an age when plenty of colleges sell their abilities to prepare players for the NFL and NBA to recruits.  Does Emmert have a clue why that sort of sales pitch might be appealing?  Hint: financial gain is involved.

Besides that, I’d love to hear how Emmert squares this no expectation of financial gain argument with his $2000 stipend proposal.

Then there’s the self-righteousness.

… Not only do high profile players not make a dime off their jersey sales, they also can’t sell the jerseys that they wear. Five Ohio State players got suspended for five games this year for selling their memorabilia.

Yet the school can sell their gear and make the money off it. Auburn sold the pants worn by Cam Newton in the title game for $1,500, while Michigan sold the pants worn by Denard Robinson in this year’s night game against Notre Dame for $1,300.

Emmert says schools can do that because of where the money is going.

“If a school is selling jerseys or memorabilia, then we need to know, are they taking those resources and putting them back into support for student-athletes and athletic programs?” Emmert said. “In every case that I know, those revenues go to support the student-athlete.”

Their hearts are pure!  Besides, everybody knows if those revenues flow directly to the student-athlete (by the way, how is that not support?), he’ll just waste it on hip-hop music and tattoos.

Oh, and let’s not forget the selfish part.

… Emmert admits that part of the reason why he believes athletes will never get paid for their jersey sales or memorabilia while they are eligible is that it’s way too complex.

“We have a similar situation where schools compete for each other around athletes,” Emmert said. “We have agents competing over who’s going to get a student-athlete. You immediately open the door for all those forces coming in and structuring a force model to try and curry favor with the student-athlete. If on the other hand, an institution generates a stream of revenue that allows it to continue running an athletic program, you’ve got a completely different model where revenues are going and what they’re being used for.”

In other words, it’s okay to curry favor with the NCAA and its members.  Just don’t be trying any of that “force model” shit around the players.  Whatever in the hell a “force model” is, anyway.  I doubt Emmert could explain it beyond saying it belongs to him and he’s not sharing.  That’s about as complex as he cares to get.

It’s not like this garbage is going to lead to an “Occupy NCAA” moment.  It’s just that Emmert would deserve it if it ever did.

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16 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

16 responses to “It’s Mark Emmert’s world, student-athletes. You’re just living in it.

  1. Guest

    Don’t folks like business majors go to college to “monitize their position,” or, at least, because they think it might?

  2. HVL Dawg

    Thanks.

    This is the first time I’ve seen a case as to why students can’t make the money from the retail jersey sales. It is all part of the financing scheme that pays for the big time program the students need – facilities, coaching, tudors, film tech, etc. You want to go to a big time program because it has big time resources. Coincidentally, big time programs have fans that buy a lot of jerseys. Schools make money selling jerseys and use the profit to buy big time resources that the athletes enjoy. It is the model. No great player wants to go to a program that doesn’t have resources and schools with great players sell jerseys.

    Now. That said- What is wrong with every player being allowed to sell what the school has given them? Why not let them sell (or keep) an amount of gifts? jerseys, rings, textbooks? My daughter just sold last semester’s textbooks (that I bought for her) and used the cash to pierce her damned nose and go to a concert. I’m not mad about the concert.

    • AusDawg85

      I could have easily created a pool of investors, raised $1 million, bought an insurance policy from Lloyds to hedge the investment, and then bought Matt Stafford’s signed jersey for that million with a wink and a nod that I’d like to be his agent. 10% of his contract is worth about $4 million. Multiply this by 100 per year, and I’m a significant agent rep for the NFL. And then basketball. Baseball. Etc….

      We could go Libertarian and say, “so what?” I might even agree. But I’m not really ready to support my alma mater whoring itself openly as a scout team for the NFL with no pretense of providing a comparable education to that of the rest of the student body for a dozen or so “star” athletes each year.

      Nobody forced Staff and AJ to take a scholly with UGA and forego some short-term financial gain. The fact that the UGA Athletic Department profited off of them during their careers is something I hold my nose to while enjoying better facilities around campus and seeing our student athletes be the beneficiaries of a better environment than at most other institutions.

      Gee…in the spirit of this time of year, I feel dirty.

    • Monday Night Frotteur

      That seems like an untested theory. If Emmert opened the market up and some schools (without any collusion; all independently determined decisions) offered scholarships that prohibited memorabilia sales and promised to use that money for revenue athletes’ facilities, while other schools offered scholarships with no such prohibition, where would top athletes go? I bet Emmert knows they’d choose the latter, not the former. I bet he knows that quite well.

    • Coastal Dawg

      The rub isn’t so much the players selling what is theirs in the first place, it is control over the “buyers”. You open a pandora’s box here.

      “Hey Cam, come to Auburn and I promise someone will buy your first gameday jersey for $180,000.”

      In reality, the student-athlete is free to sell the things given them by the university. They just have to wait until their eligibility is over. That said, the current set up reaks to high heaven. I just haven’t seen a viable alternative.

      • Monday Night Frotteur

        Why is that a Pandora’s Box? Schools that care the most about football success will be able to procure the best talent. Dog bites man. That box was opened many decades ago. Indiana ain’t winning the Big Ten anytime soon, and the MAC isn’t sending two teams to the BCS. We already have competitive imbalance, the only difference would be that the revenue generating athletes would gain more market power and a larger share of the revenues.

  3. adam

    While reading that, I couldn’t help but think back to the 2007 Gala when they auctioned off Knowshon’s jersey from The Blackout for about $10,000.

    Quite the system they’ve got goin’ there.

  4. Nate

    Slightly off topic; I’m voting for the “Occupy Herbstreit” sign as the best Gameday sign of the year. Topical AND humorous.

  5. 81Dog

    “This is not about creating new opportunities for them to monetize their position…….it’s about maintaining existing opportunities for schools to monetize THEIR positions. Mike Adams country club memberships and Mercedes Benzes don’t just pay for themselves, bitches.”

    Of course, Mike Adams probably has more UGA loot in the cushions of his ulta plush, hand crafted Italian leather couch (paid for by UGA, no doubt), than AJ Green could have gotten for selling the entire contents of his locker for the three years he was in Athens. While there are certainly no easy solutions to the whole “where should the money go?” issue, there is no doubt Mark Emmert’s thoughtful treatment of the question makes him appear to be an arrogant, money grubbing douche.

  6. 81Dog

    “ultra”….sheesh, I need to wake up this morning.

  7. The profiteering that goes on with merchandise that is specific to an athlete is what really gets me angry. Something like that, which piggyback off the accomplishments of the individual athlete is just wrong. I don’t know how these guys sleep at night. Wait, yes I do. On pillows filled with hundred dollar bills.

  8. Lrgk9

    I am ashamed for Emmert as he doesn’t seem capable of integrity.

    And consider this, The Senator and I are both Lawyers and even ‘our’ sense of what is right is outraged.

    Sheesh

  9. Cojones

    Then Lrgk9, I challenge you and the Senator to use your skills to begin and continue the groundswell of indignation that you blog of such that this inequity can be solved. Do this for both the student-athlete and your alma mater. Do it for the heroes we establish and lionize for their exploits on the gridiron tableau. Do it for their families, for your own sense of decency and respect and for all the fans.

    There must be other blog site owners with a sense of empowerment given by their fans in consolidation with you in such an endeavor. I would think that accounts for a majority of college football fandom with the collective power to move any social inequity with the passionate intensity it takes and as both of you espouse. Lead on, and consider your readership to be supportive of such worthwhile endeavors, even of lawyers. And don’t be pulling that old saw on fans who count some with law degrees as best friends.

    Senator, give us something with teeth instead of the gnashing of teeth. As much as we all abhor the presence of lawmakers in such an undertaking, how might we proceed without them? Give us a script that we may follow to exhort the unconscionable NCAA powers to action on this issue. I have suggestions, but will save them for another future (hopefully) post.

    Lastly, I furnish my blogging name-sense to you both in hopes you get a pair for this undertaking.

  10. Keese

    First off I agree…but someone could also make the argument that the opportunity to play, gain exposure (jerseys, national exposure, etc) in and of itself is a indirect way these kids are leveraging themselves to capitalize on the next level.

    Maybe a bad example, but think of Tebow’s hype out of college. Alloeed him a way capitalize himself in the draft, jersey sales etc. b/c the world knew all about him before taking a professional snap.

    My point is that there is some individual value built in college. The stage to do that in NCAA football is there.

    • Cojones

      Don’t differ one bit. And that’s my rationalization for not opening Pandora’s Box with a $2k stipend. Uniform sales also sport my school’s colors so I see justification for the school to profit. But the Senator is advocating more rights for student-athletes and he has a good point, albeit that jerseys and other equipment sales are a part of that. The promotion of sales using the player’s reputation put into that number is his point of attack. Like any good lawyer , he has attacked the weakest link in an argument not to compensate students and one we probably all identify with in our hearts because, after all, the reason for the popularity of the equipment is linked directly to our hearts. Give him high marks for an opening salvo to build a case.

      If a student can be compensated (along with team members sharing the loot for that year) for making a jersey number more saleable, then it has to be worked out from a trail set with all sorts of traps and to embark on that journey we have to look at a great deal more than the “Feels Good” reward at the end of that trail. That’s where the lawyers come in. They can best argue the Rights and Wrongs in a public forum in order to arrive at the Feels Good. They can escort their fan’s findings into the NCAA arena much better than us lay public.

      Now, how to divvy up the loot fairly is a big question. The number wouldn’t be famous without the team playing it’s part . So they have to be compensated for their input for making the number more saleable. Marketing can only be done by the school so there’s that compensation. Monies have to be set aside until the students complete their amateur years else there will be a demand from advertisers, agents to get involved, etc.. Then, when does that player cease to become the reason for sales? And if he leaves ahead of the team, when is the cutoff in compensation to those remaining behind? We have yet to approach the uniform manufacturers who are under contract to furnish them to the University in return for advertising their logo. And child labor laws that may be broken when we get into full swing? To keep the price at a level that spurs the heartstring sales, I would imagine you would have to watch that manufacturing industry like a hawk or sell only to the wealthy. Wonder how big the wealthy-kid market is nowadays?

      Many items that are traps set in the trail have to be discussed further at another posting. That may be long enough to get the ball rolling. What say you, Senator?

  11. Always Someone Else's Fault

    Yes. More for our best football and basketball athletes. It’s truly a shame we treat them so poorly in our country. I, for one, am not resting until the next AJ Green leaves Georgia or Robinson leaves Michigan with a couple of million in his bank account. It’s only fair. It’s not like it’s a team game or anything, with a fan base that would not give AJ or Denard a dime on the street if he was wearing the wrong laundry.

    If they do ever pass something, then we need to start a fund to buy offensive linemen and defensive lineman jerseys, in sufficient quantities to pump recruiting. I’ll take a couple of 5-star tackles over Denard any day of the week.