And ponder Todd Gurley’s fate at Georgia as you read this:
These aren’t the old days. The players are more famous than ever. Social media makes them easier to reach and approach outside the confines of the athletic department.
And the big, big business of celebrity makes their fame a major commodity.
To pretend otherwise, to deny them the representation they deserve, to prevent them from earning money, to put kids who are now in an overwhelming spotlight to operate under rules that are far more restrictive than the criminal code, isn’t just ridiculous. It actually forces college sports’ best players to leave sooner than necessary to cash in and thus, Fitch argues, hurts both the NCAA business and its stated mission of educating athletes.
“[If] you can make money and you can stay here for four years and get your education and you can have a much smoother transition to the NFL or NBA, that actually fulfills the education part because it’s no longer a system that pushes them out,” Fitch argued.
“If you say [allowing this] ruins it, I say it helps fulfill the student part of student-athlete. More will graduate. More will stay.”
Manziel played just two seasons for Texas A&M. If he were banking $8 million to $10 million per year on outside income, would he have stayed for one or two more, led A&M to more glory while becoming better prepared for the NFL?
“My opinion is absolutely,” Fitch said. “I think Johnny would have stayed. And with Mike [Evans, A&M star receiver who also left early] and Johnny this year at Texas A&M? National championship.”
It wouldn’t have cost the school one dime. As for the kids,
“Who defines big money to a college kid?” Fitch said. “Who defines that? Is $100 big money? So if a backup can go get $100 to sign 100 footballs and he comes from a disadvantaged background is that not big money? How about $25 to fill his gas tank? Who does it hurt?
“Every dollar is a big dollar to a college kid.”