The day after, Mark Emmert’s poo-flinging response to those critical of the decision to allow the Ohio State players involved in rules violations to retain their eligibility for the upcoming Sugar Bowl remains no less perplexing. The coda – “Money is not a motivator or factor as to why one school would get a particular decision versus another. Any insinuation that revenue from bowl games in particular would influence NCAA decisions is absurd, because schools and conferences receive that revenue, not the NCAA” – sounds borderline delusional when juxtaposed against the admission of the Sugar Bowl’s CEO that he lobbied for that precise outcome.
But wait, it gets worse. Exactly how do you square the line the NCAA draws here
… While efforts are being championed by NCAA President Mark Emmert to further clarify and strengthen recruiting and amateurism rules when benefits or money are solicited (but not received), current NCAA rules would be violated and students declared ineligible should a parent or third party receive benefits or money, regardless of the student’s knowledge.
Put simply, had Cam Newton’s father or a third party actually received money or benefits for his recruitment, Cam Newton would have been declared ineligible regardless of his lack of knowledge.
Casey Martinez had a deal with Nebraska nearly a year before his football-playing son, Taylor, did.
The father of Nebraska’s starting quarterback owns the sports apparel company Corn Fed, and he entered into a licensing agreement with the university’s athletic program about a year before his son committed to play football for the Cornhuskers.
Answer: the NCAA basically doesn’t have a damned clue.
… Both Casey Martinez and Nebraska’s Stephens said the licensing deal had nothing to do with Taylor’s college choice.
In an e-mail, Casey said he was in discussions with universities about licensing deals “when Taylor was a 115-pound 9th grade student.” Stephens said the school made its decision “based on retail interest and fit of Corn Fed brand with our Cornhuskers brand.”
By terms of the agreement, Nebraska gets a 10% royalty on all Corn Fed products it sells. That, according to Stephens, has been less than $500 over a period of more than three years.
The NCAA said the business partnership does not violate college rules, but spokesman Erik Christianson acknowledged such deals “could raise concerns” about recruiting inducements.
All of which brings me to this fascinating debate between Aron White and Greg McGarity.
… Those incidents have led to a debate: Should players actually be allowed to do what they want with those gifts or their own game apparel? Many say yes, including some Georgia players.
“I think if they give it to us, I think it’s ours,” Georgia tight end Aron White said. “In my opinion, you should be able to do whatever you want with it. If yours is more valuable than somebody else’s, that’s because of what you’ve done in your life, in your career, that you’ve worked hard for.”
White said he has had this very debate, including the larger one over whether players should be paid, many times with administrators at Georgia. One of them may have been athletics director Greg McGarity, who presented the NCAA’s reason for having the rule: The chance that unsavory agents or boosters would exploit it.
“What would stop a booster from saying, ‘Hey, I’ll buy your jersey for 50 grand’?” McGarity said. “So that’s why I think it’s in place.”
Sorry, but I think White has the better argument here. If the real concern is about unsavory agents or boosters overpaying for an item to gain influence, set an official market value for the item, or sell it through the school and split the revenue with the player. There are ways to control the abuse, if the NCAA is of a mind to do so.
Then there’s this rather curious comment from McGarity.
… There’s also a principle involved, McGarity added.
“Those are keepsakes, kind of like championship rings. If you want to give them to fathers, brothers and family members, I think that’s fine,” he said. “But once you start putting them on E-bay, I think it just kind of cheapens the award, lessens it, and gets it in the hands of the wrong people.”
I understand how that may offend his personal sense of aesthetics, but what exactly does any of that have to do with the stated goal of preserving student-athletes’ amateurism? And how is it any more offensive for a player to do that during his college career than afterward? If McGarity doesn’t want to run the risk of the award being cheapened, there’s a simple way to prevent that from happening – don’t give it out in the first place.
I’m not convinced that paying a stipend to college players is a viable option for a number of reasons, but I do find my free market sensibilities offended by schools’ sanctimoniously telling their student-athletes that it’s wrong for them to trade on their names while they engage in the very same practice. Sadly, what this all really comes off looking like is little more than the NCAA and its member institutions cutting off competition.
So, you tell me who comes off as the more sensible here, Mark Emmert or Aron White.
“I really think a lot of times that the benefits the university receives far outweigh what the college athlete receives,” he said. “I don’t know that there’s a best way to do it. I don’t know how to do it. But I do think a lot of times the student-athlete is put at a disadvantage because we don’t have the time to work, we have full schedules, we have a full academic load, a full athletic load. And beyond that, we still have to try to have time to have a life, to have a social life, to go out and meet people and mingle. …
“So it’s hard. I know they have to protect amateurism and all that. But at the same time it’s not really their property, it’s your property.”