Given yesterday’s embarrassing disclosure about the NCAA’s on-site shop, this John Infante post arguing that there is a middle ground somewhere between “complete professionalization and rigid amateurism” the NCAA could explore is both timely and interesting.
That brings us back to Johnny Manziel and his signature. Autographs and memorabilia seem like the perfect place to start with amateurism deregulation. There is already an open market that dictates the value of these items, meaning less chance for an athlete to be ripped off. There is actual work or value that athletes have to put in, either by signing hundreds of items or giving up memorabilia they earned. Any number of other ideas can be tried as well, like limits on missed class time or the involvement of agents, boosters, and/or the institution.
What kind of limits? Infante has a few suggestions.
If boosters overpaying for autographs is a problem, prohibit booster involvement or set a standard rate. If some agents are good and some agents are bad, have an agent registry with dedicated rules and staff. If interference with academics is the fear, then prohibit athletes from missing class or move as much commercial activity to the summer as possible.
There might also be an added bonus in that allowing the Manziels of the college athletics universe to cash in on their names could blow a hole in the O’Bannon class action certification. Plus, this arrangement sidesteps a host of potential problems that direct pay for play create, such as Title IX ramifications and having to treat student-athletes as employees.
It’s all probably too logical for Emmert to absorb, though.