Dawgs for O’Bannon!

Yesterday, they held a presser for the Countdown to Kickoff charity event, and a player compensation discussion broke out.  Given it was the two Stinchcombs and David Greene doing the talking, it was pretty thoughtful.

“These players feel as if their images and likenesses have been used, and they didn’t realize any type of value for having had their likeness used, then that needs to be addressed in some capacity,” said Stinchcomb, who was a first-team All-American at Georgia in 1998, and a first-round pick in the 1999 NFL draft. “I know this, when I signed a college scholarship, it was to play football at a university, and I was going to be afforded room and board, and the cost of tuition and books. And that’s exactly what I got. What I think we’re seeing now is it’s going beyond some of that. Now there may be language in the scholarship or the letter-of-intent that says they can do that. But I don’t think that was implied in the contract, and I don’t know that any 18-year-old, even after having it explained to them, would fully grasp what they’re granting to the NCAA to use their likeness as individuals, if in fact that’s what’s going on.”

When Greene was in school, his number 14 was sold all over Georgia. But his name was not on any of those jerseys, so he didn’t receive any of the income. Still, it was clear whose jersey it was supposed to be, just as this year plenty of No. 11 jerseys are being sold, without Aaron Murray’s name on the back.

“You could consider college sports as amateur, which it is … but there’s a big business around it,” said Greene, the winningest quarterback in Georgia history, who spent three years in the NFL. “There’s a lot of pressure around it too. You can’t tell me there isn’t a lot of pressure on these kids, even though they’re not being paid to play. There’s a lot of pressure on these kids to perform.”

The idea that what surrounds college athletics in just the past few years has changed significantly was a recurring theme.

The three former players seemed sensitive to the notion that student-athletes get a free education, and that some consider that sufficient payment. Matt Stinchcomb also made clear that he doesn’t have sympathy for athletes who don’t get their degrees.

“If you’re out here and you’re playing football and you’re complaining for free, (but) you’re not taking advantage of the academics and the diploma, then in a lot of ways yeah, you’re playing for free, and that’s your own choice,” he said. “But where I think that scenario looses traction, and the push-back I guess I would have at the NCAA level is they have gone above and beyond this implied contract that says: You play ball, we give you the education. Except now, it’s you play ball, and in compensation we’ll allow you to go to school here, we’ll pay room and board here … and by the way on the side here, we’re gonna have a contract with whatever licensing company for them to have the rights to sell your jersey in the bookstores, and we’re also going to contract with video game makers, and we’re gonna use your likeness, and we’re gonna capture that value, and none of that will be realized by you as an individual.”

The more money that flows into collegiate athletics, the more cash-starved the schools and the NCAA behave, the more discontent is going to be generated among student-athletes who see the disparity Stinchcomb describes.  It’s inevitable.

Especially because the kids get smacked in the face with it every day they’re on campus, as Weiszer points out.

Greene addressed all of those No. 14 jerseys that were sold when he was quarterback for Georgia from 2001-04, which he did not get a cut.

“The game has evolved over time and the business behind the game has evolved as well,” Greene said. “I don’t know if there were a whole lot of Charley Trippi jerseys being sold (in the 1940s) even though he was the biggest stud on campus at the time.”

Georgia’s official athletic website is currently auctioning off team-issued football jerseys including the numbers of Todd Gurley (3), John Jenkins (6), Tavarres King (12), Bacarri Rambo (18), Sanders Commings (19) and 83 (Cornelius Washington).

Their perspective is interesting, because as former NFL players, they all received compensation for their likenesses being used in video games based on NFL play.  Jon Stinchcomb grappled with the question of why that should be different on the collegiate level:

“It’s tricky because from a fans’ perspective it’s balancing, `Oh, all these players are greedy. They see an opportunity when they should appreciate the opportunity to play and represent your school and enjoy a game at a collegiate level.’ And we do. That’s the awesome side of football. I don’t think any player would ever leverage that, but you have to separate the two. Is it greed or is it somewhat being taken advantage of on an individual level?”

Heartfelt stuff.  Which makes you wonder how much this issue is on players’ minds these days.  Will it be that hard for the O’Bannon plaintiffs to find a student-athlete ready to step up and add his name to the complaint?

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15 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

15 responses to “Dawgs for O’Bannon!

  1. Lrgk9

    A kid whose Dad played will step up for sure.
    Or one whose Dad/Mom/Aunt/Uncle is a lawyer or doctor.
    Or one whose Dad/Mom/Uncle/Aunt is in software development or contract administration.

    Slam dunk if this bad boy get’s certified and it looks like the NCAA is going to take one to the crotch.

  2. Well deserved…I might add.

  3. simpl_matter

    “Some of my best friends are college athletes” – Paula Deen

  4. DawgPhan

    I just wonder how much money is really available to players if there is going to be some sort of paying players thing in the future.

    Are we going to get our panties in a wad over all of this and it turns out that the players each get a check for $1293.12 for each year they lettered and the lawyers take home $100million?

    • You’re right. Better they should give up and let the schools and NCAA pocket the dough for their likenesses.

      • DawgPhan

        not the point I was making. But that is always how class action lawsuits seem to end. The lawyers get rich, the defendant cuts a big check, promises not to do it again and the plaintiff gets a minimal amount of money.

        • I was being facetious. Seriously, though, what’s your idea of a happy ending here?

          • Gravidy

            There isn’t one.

          • Senator, I don’t see any happy ending here other than Emmert leaving the NCAA headquarters never to return. Maybe a reorganization of major college athletics but that still may be a stretch.

          • As others say, is there a happy ending here? Or are we looking at a Reek and Ramsey story line?

            Let’s assume the NCAA doesn’t win, appeals, and still loses. If the players side ultimately prevails, then with a shift in how things are done that drastic, can we make any reasonable assumptions about how things develop in such a paid player model (what schools keep at it, which ones don’t, how do big schools handle it, and little ones with less largesse in their budgets adjust, etc)? Or if the NCAA wins, and get court sanctioning of their current exploitative business model, how much does the money grab explode then?

            • Monday Night Frotteur

              I have no crystal ball but I think there are three very relevant precedents:

              1) MLB Free agency in 1975:

              2) Major college sports after the destruction of the Sanity Code and the adoption of GIA scholarships in the late 40s-early 50s; and

              3) The NCAA losing the Board of Regents decision in 1984

              Before all-three, advocates of the status quo predicted that free agency would “kill” baseball, tuition-scholarships would “kill” college sports by destroying amateurism, and de-regulation of broadcast rights would “kill” college football and the value of TV deals would plummet. None of that really happened. In all three cases, some things changed (e.g. the Ivy League left major college football, baseball players made an exponentially higher portion of MLB’s revenue, and CFB broadcast deals exploded in value and we can now see almost every FBS game (and many FCS games) on TV, though the NCAA no longer gets to skim off the top of that). For the most part, things kept rolling along, though the distribution of revenue changed dramatically from broadcast de-regulation (or delegation to the conferences, if you prefer) and free agency.

          • Monday Night Frotteur

            1) Creating a large fund to channel most of the broadcast money to revenue athletes

            2) An end to the prohibition on outside income/”sponsorships” (e.g. the “Olympic Model”)

            3) A massive de-regulation of recruiting and concomitant reduction in enforcement staff

            If all that happened, 10 years from now we’d have lower coaching salaries, better-compensated recruits and revenue-athletes, and fewer arbitrary enforcement actions.

            • 1) There is no way this fund is going to happen unless pay for play is implemented, and a players union similar to the NFLPA rises up in its place. That means all compensation from the university including the scholarship becomes taxable to the athlete.
              2) I agree with this. What’s good for the goose (video games) is good for the gander.
              3) The rule book needs to be significantly pared down and sanctions for breaking the rules should be draconian for the school, the athlete, and the rogue booster if possible.

  5. Cojones

    It matters not. What will be the response to other team players who made the jerseys popular? The player or the ream surrounding that player? How do we disenfranchise them? The jerseys are reflective of the school and colors representative of that school. How much should the school get for furnishing those portions of sales hyperbole? Other sportds? Other genders?Fans make the player in many instances. The media stories of players enhance their stock for mo money. How much should they have divded between them?

    EA Sports and the NCAA have no business in each university/player business.. Individual university policies for payout can differ to affect recruitment. What do we do if it is left only to the universities?This is a small listing jumping forth with questions flooding from only a crack in the lid of Pandora’s Box .

    Where are the slippery slope stories?

  6. Bobby

    You can’t fault a player from trying to vindicate his rights and the rights of other players, especially w/ a lawsuit that appears to be meritorious (at least in a fair–if not legal–sense). However, I would be concerned if one of our guys elected to be a class rep. Class reps are not passively involved in class litigation. They have to be relatively up to speed on all the facts, issues, and law of the case. They have to be aware of the course of litigation. They have to be available for depositions and court appearances. Class actions (especially antitrust class actions) are exhausting, unwieldy beasts of litigation, and class reps have to be ready, willing, competent, and fit to see it through.

    In other words, it’s distracting and time-consuming. Players already have crazy time commitments to school and team–not to mention the basic social aspects of college life that every student should experience. Being a class rep just seems like it would be a tremendous burden in light of the other commitments and involvements. The litigation business would take place during business hours. So, what takes the hit? Afternoon workouts? Film sessions? Homework? Tutoring?