I haven’t said much about the Todd Gurley bill, the one that would criminalize people who lead college athletes into behavior that jeopardizes their NCAA eligibility, winding its way through the Georgia legislature because:
- I have a natural antipathy towards knee-jerk legislation that’s crafted in response to something that happened to a specific person. (“Numbered House Bill 3 to reflect Bulldog’s jersey number…”)
- It’s unlikely to pass in the Senate.
- It’s a really stupid idea.
Doubt me on the stupid? Let the bill’s author explain.
“The individual who enticed him to sell his autograph was not punished, and that is the reason for this bill,” said the bill’s author, Rep. Barry Fleming, R-Harlem.
A 2003 law allows colleges to sue one of their own alumni whose actions harm the whole school’s eligibility, but that didn’t cover the Gurley situation.
“We punish the person who sells alcohol to minors as well as the person who buys the alcohol,” Fleming said, arguing the buyer of the autographs should have been punished the way Gurley was with the four-game suspension he served during the fall.
Nice analogy. Evidently nobody has bothered to point out to Rep. Fleming that the NCAA’s rules aren’t codified criminal law in this country. Although I’m sure Mark Emmert wouldn’t mind if some legislative body out there wanted to make the attempt.
Oh, and as far as punishing somebody “the way Gurley was”, Fleming’s bill imposes a $25,000 fine and jail time on somebody who is doing nothing more than engaging in normal commerce. And by normal commerce, I mean doing something that with any person on the planet other than a college student-athlete wouldn’t raise an eyebrow. You know, that whole free enterprise thing that we love to sing praises to here.
Fleming’s a Georgia grad, natch, so I’m sure this will stand him in good stead at whatever tailgates he attends. But it’s a really dumb stunt.