Let’s hear it for good intentions.
Georgia state representative Barry Fleming (R-Harlem), a “double-dog” who graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law in 1994, introduced a bill that would make it unlawful for anyone to knowingly solicit a transaction with a student-athlete enrolled in Georgia colleges, under the penalty of a $25,000 fine.
Fleming mentioned that although other student-athletes have fallen down the rabbit hole of profiting off their likenesses, the main impetus behind the bill was Gurley’s involvement with memorabilia dealer Bryan Allen.
After all, it’s not common to sell one’s meal ticket right after punching it.
Allen allegedly recorded a video of Gurley signing items and accepting $400 then offered this storyline to several media outlets, exposing additional transgressions by Gurley in violation with the NCAA’s compliance rules.
“The typical memorabilia dealer wants the player to do very well,” Fleming said. “We all know Todd could’ve won the Heisman Trophy. All this speculation that he was a Gator fan, or a mean individual, there must be some validity to that.”
Allen’s ulterior motives aside, Fleming expressed concern at the deceitful nature of Allen’s most recent business venture and hopes to get the bill passed by March.
“Driving 56 mph in a 55 [mph] zone is illegal,” Fleming said. “But if you’re going 90 mph, and putting others in danger, there’s a different level of severity.”
Whatever, brah. The reality here is that if buyer and seller are both careful and happy campers, it’s probably not coming to light.
Profiting off student-athletes is a multi-faceted business, with recent graduate Peyton Bennett selling “Free Gurl3y” shirts during Gurley’s four-game suspension before receiving a cease and desist letter from the University.
“It was kind of just to show our support, and obviously I thought I’d be able to make a quick buck,” Bennett said.
The desire to make a quick buck might have been what sparked this controversy in the first place, as most transactions would obviously involve two willing parties.
Because of this, Bennett is skeptical of the proposed law.
“It doesn’t seem like it’s going to make that big of a difference,” Bennett said. “Because at the end of the day it’s really going to be up to the student-athlete whether or not they’re willing to break the rule and sell their autograph for money.”
Come up with all the criminal laws you want, but it’s the law of supply and demand that will drive this puppy, no matter how much some might wish otherwise.
Jim Booz, Georgia’s senior associate athletic director of compliance, raised the point that under this law, both parties will face consequences for their actions.
“In a situation like this one,” Booz said, “where a bill would penalize the patron — the solicitor, if you will — it’s assuming already that the student-athlete has or is currently serving some sort of suspension, so they’re being penalized for their actions as well.”
While proving someone knowingly coerced a student-athlete into violating compliance regulations may sound unfeasible, Booz said the dialogue opened by the bill could lead to fewer infractions.
“Whenever a law or a bill or a rule is passed with the phraseology including ‘knowingly,’ sometimes it’s even more difficult to prove intent,” Booz said. “But also those cases are always so fact-specific, that the prosecutors and district attorney would have to rely significantly on the past, but hopefully the bill as it is written will act as a significant deterrent.”
Hopefully, eh? Well, I suspect most of us would simply prefer that Bryan Allen had been Fletcher Sanders instead of hoping for Fleming’s law to control the memorabilia market. For that matter, Bryan Allen probably wishes he’d have behaved more like Sanders, too.