“What’s so bad about a signature?”

Seth Emerson entitles this piece “Georgia players, Richt, disagree on autograph issue”, but if you read it carefully, they’re really just squabbling over peripheral stuff.

Here’s how the players interviewed break down:

  • Drew and Dawson say the existing rule is all that’s currently relevant.
  • Garrison Smith thinks players should be paid.
  • Jordan Jenkins thinks players should be paid in general, but he doesn’t think autographs should cost money.

Jenkins is articulate on the subject.

“It’s sort of like you’re getting screwed off the system because you’re making everybody else money,” Jenkins said. “The NCAA, I don’t care what they say, it’s based on your likeness, that’s money they’re making off our image and stuff like that. … It’s sort of like you’re earning other people money for four years and you don’t get a little bit of it. I know some people say it goes to the scholarship, but I feel like athletes earn the university so much more money than that scholarship.”

So what does Richt disagree about with his players?

But Richt expressed a reservation, shared by many, that it would lead to larger problems.

“I just don’t know how it could all work where it didn’t become so hard to manage,” Richt said. “If you just said, OK everybody can sell their stuff, you can just imagine yourself what that might turn into and how problematic it could become.”

Richt did agree that athletes should get some money, reiterating his support for “at least” a $2,000 cost-of-attendance stipend, which the SEC has supported.

“And we were ready to go further than that,” Richt said. “But we think that’s the best shot of getting more money into the hands of our players.”  [Emphasis added.]

In other words, even Richt supports the concept that student-athletes should receive compensation.  His disagreement is over the method of distribution.

Face it, folks, amateurism is dead.  Not a single person interviewed by Emerson has a thing to say in support of the NCAA’s guiding principle as justification for not paying players.

Granted, this is a small sample size.  But I’ll bet you’d find it representative if you asked a lot more of their D-1 peers.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

21 responses to ““What’s so bad about a signature?”

  1. Bear Bryant made sure his players had everything they needed. .. Old school style and so did every other College.


  2. 69Dawg

    Love or hate SOS he is willing to share. Lets say that the players get a piece of the Nike pie and the fan stuff. Why would this be a bad thing. If the Gym Dawgs have agreements then the Gym Dawgs get a piece of the action. If a sport makes no money for the school then the players get no money to play the sport except their scholarship. As much as I hate Tech there coach Bobby Ross left college coaching after winning a national championship (or half) because he could not stand the fact that everybody associated with the school administration got to go to the bowl games but some of the poor player’s parents could not attend and to help them attend would be an NCAA violation. That was 20 years ago and nothing has changed.



    I could go for a stipend myself. Treat all the players the same, otherwise I see issues myself.

    How long till the Clempson KO?


  4. Amateurism is definitely dead. It has been dead for a long time at the highest level. You could make the case amateurism died as soon as an athlete accepted a scholarship to be admitted to a school that he wouldn’t have gotten into otherwise. Now, it’s a matter of how much revenue sharing is going to take place between the institution and the student-athlete.


  5. Mayor of Dawgtown

    There’s something wrong with charging for an autograph. Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus have signed literally millions of autographs between them and never charged a dime.


    • Darrron Rovelll

      But it was Nicklaus’s and Palmer’s choice to not charge for those signatures. Of course, they also have been licensing their names to design firms, apparel companies, and beverage brands to tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

      What is screwed up about the system and what Jay Bilas brilliantly illustrated yesterday is that memorabilia dealers, schools, the NCAA, charities etc. can obtain players autographs for free, promote those signatures for sale, and make $ off of the player’s name. The player on the other cannot make that same choice. They can either sign for free and have no control over what happens to it OR they can choose not to sign. But as Andy Staples pointed out, if they choose not to sign these student athletes are going to be considered jerks.

      Bilas had evidence that the NCAA had a Reggie Bush signed picture from a bowl game for sale. You know that same bowl game that USC had to vacate after it was found out that Bush had accept funds from a marketing agent.

      Let’s face it – if you are an average college player your fame and earning potential are probably never going to be any higher than at that point when you were 18-22 years old. Asking and/or pressuring a student to sign autographs for free and then going out and selling that same signature is just wrong to me.


      • But Richt has a point in that you are opening a huge can of worms allowing them to sell their signatures. At that point, you develop a program race to see who has the highest bidding memorabilia broker, because you know that’ll be what happens. Vandy will have a guy that’ll pay a few bucks for some kids. Georgia will have one that pays much more. Kentucky will have guys that pay for basketball stuff but not so much football. Bama will have a guy paying ridiculous numbers, which will cause Auburn and Texas and LSU to find a broker that’ll pay crazy fees, etc. It sucks they can’t sell their signature, but unless you want to start a bidding war for players, there is just no easy solution.


        • Darrron Rovelll

          Perhaps – but when you try to build a structure on foundation that is fundamentally flawed – the structure will eventually come toppling over no matter how many adjustments that you make.

          With all of the stuff that has come out of the O’Bannon suit, Cam Newton, realignment, Johnny Football etc over the last few years, the NCAA (and members) remind me of Marie Antoinette. They cannot see the revolution in front of their face and the times that are changing.

          Except Antoinette thought her subjects should eat cake – the NCAA would prefer the students get nothing.


  6. If people want to go to the Olympic model, that’s fine. But don’t tell me you care about the players. Tell me you care about the STAR players, because that’s who will benefit.


    • mp

      Alternatively, we can keep the status quo nobody (neither STAR players nor AVERAGE players) get stipends or the ability to own/market/monetize their name and likeness. Who does that benefit?


      • I’m not saying we should keep the status quo. I’m simply saying the Olympic model will create a caste system within the team. If we’re cool with that it’s all good.


        • mp

          I don’t know. Caste system may be a bit harsh. Is that what NFL players feel when the lineman makes 1/20th as much as the QB?

          Somewhere along the way we learn in capitalism that people with different skills (or different abilities in that skill) get compensated differently. All the Olympic model does is bring that knowledge 3 or 4 years early…before the NFL (or the general economy for the players who go professional in something other than sports) makes it crystal clear.


  7. 81Dog

    I dont guess I should be surprised that the guys who stand to get paid, or the guys with enough money to pay them (thus ensuring a continued supply of players worth playing) are in favor of players getting money.

    I’m not saying its wrong. I’m just sayin’…..


  8. Related: http://www.goodbullhunting.com/2013/8/7/4596118/johnny-autograph-avatar-generator

    Get yours today.

    Also, I’m sure some of you saw the article in the local fishwrap today with a graph showing how productivity has been decoupled from wages since the early-80s? Not sure student-athletes should be then surprised that they aren’t justly compensated for their labor. Most Americans aren’t.


  9. Always Someone Else's Fault

    What happens when the next Johnny M uses his marketing proceeds to buy each of his linemen the latest Iphone? And now we get to have an NCAA Department investigating the value of autographs and “standard market rates”?

    There is no middle ground here. You can create it, but it will look as absurd as the ground we’re standing on now within 3 years. I can’t wait until CFB has position sponsorships:

    “That’s a 1st down, brought to you by Georgia’s Dodge RAM running back, Todd Gurley!”

    Nike can sponsor all of Oregon’s skill positions and set up a line f personalized memorabilia for each position.



  10. rocksalt

    If you asked D-1 peers sure..but would the folks in Montana agree?


  11. dawgfan17

    Here are the things that make it difficult to deal with this. If you allow players to start selling their signatures, jerseys etc. what is to stop a school from promising a recruit that if you come here we have X number of boosters that we promise you will pay Y number of dollars for your autographed materials, and don’t worry if another school promises you more come back to us and we will make sure to get you a little more. The second problem with simply paying players a certain amount of money as an extra stipend or whatever you want to call it is that it would be about 3 seconds before title IX would be brought into it and every athlete on a college campus would have to get the same amount. For schools like UGA, AL and a select other few this would not be an issue but the vast majority of division 1 would not be able to do this. Most football programs make money but there is a very limited number of athletic departments that actually make a profit.

    None of this is to say I think the system is fair but these are the two biggest obstacles to a change as I see it.