(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Obviously, as Georgia fans, the Gurley suspension has hit us in a personal way. But as John Infante points out, it’s likely to hit the NCAA differently.
But while a majority of people are opposed to paying student-athletes, that majority is getting more silent (if not smaller) by the day. Few people have spoken out against Gurley’s actions. And many who have invoke only a “rules are rules” explanation, less along the lines of “do the crime, do the time” and more along the lines of “come on, what did you expect would happen?”
There are a lot of factors involved in these types of changes in public opinion but the NFL’s tumultuous summer and start to the season looms large. Scandal fatigue with the NCAA began setting in a long time ago. The long wait for penalties in the USC case started it; the Penn State penalties, misconduct in the Miami case, and lack of action on UNC’s academic scandal were other major milestones…
… The result is we can expect support for the NCAA’s enforcement of its amateurism rules to hit a new low. That seems to be playing out with the Gurley accusations. Faced with a crisis that might one day represent an existential threat to the sport (and thus college athletics), it is easy to understand people who wonder why the NCAA is worried about some autographs.
Here’s an example of that kind of sentiment (h/t Lrgk9).
Throw in the antitrust road map on which O’Bannon is just the first mile marker, and it’s easy to see why the NCAA is finding less public support – if not downright hostility – for its amateurism policy. All of that adds up to something Ed Kilgore wrote a couple of days ago:
Reading various comment threads collecting the reactions of an overwhelming white, male, and conservative fan base, I’m struck by the extent to which I am reading expressions of fury at the economic exploitation of poor African-American young people by powerful institutions. There’s almost zero support for the NCAA’s existing (if legally zombie-like, given recent court decisions all but tearing up its “amateurism” doctrine) policies prohibiting sale of autographs and likenesses of “student-athletes,” and a great deal of anger at both the NCAA and its member-colleges for harvesting this material for enormous profits. Indeed, the general feeling is that Gurley’s being punished less for breaking rules than for threatening the power of a cartel…
Ed’s not sure that’s going to lead anywhere on a general basis, but I can think of one place where it’s very likely that it might. Politicians may not be good at many things, but they’re usually very gifted at sensing which way the winds of public sentiment are blowing. If the feelings Gurley’s situation are stirring up continue to develop, don’t be surprised in the least if that factors into the reception the schools and the NCAA get from Congress as they inevitably seek an antitrust exemption. It isn’t hard at all to see how sympathy for kids like Gurley can be generated from both the left and the right.
How ironic would it be if Gurley’s college legacy not only included his brilliant playing career, but also his impact on the history of player compensation?