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Johnny Football and the NCAA

August 9, 2013
Chris Bieri - Tribune Editor , Pierce County Tribune

The National Collegiate Athletic Association was in the spotlight this week, after it was exposed again as one of most fraudulent organizations in the entire country.

The NCAA has long been one of my most hated organizations, mostly for its ridiculous rules, greed and lack of accountability throughout.

This week it was reported that the NCAA was investigating Heisman Trophy winning Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, AKA "Johnny Football".

Manziel allegedly signed autographs for a number of dealers and was paid for that service, which would be a violation of NCAA rules.

There's long been a debate on whether NCAA athletes should be paid, and if so, to what extent.

There are strong arguments on both sides. Opponents of paying the athletes point to the fact that they are often receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships and benefits.

Proponents point to the the fact that major college athletics are big business, often generating tens of millions of dollars for their universities.

And the athletes in those major sports aren't exactly like your average student trying to earn a bachelor's degree. They devote hundreds of hours to their sport and some become superstars, garnering attention often on par with that paid to professional athletes.

But until now, the NCAA has kept rather strict rules in place, allowing small stipends for players while keeping a monster share of the revenue for themselves and the schools who in theory have education as their chief goal.

The NCAA is a "nonprofit", a laughable notion when you consider it has more than $800 million annually in revenue, mostly from TV contracts.

But the NCAA says it returns 96 percent of that income to the conferences and universities and doesn't profit directly off any specific college athlete.

ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas showed that to be false by exposing the hypocritical claim on his Twitter account earlier this week.

Bilas tweeted a series of screen shots of the online NCAA shop after making searches for the names of a number of high-profile athletes, Manziel among them.

Despite the names of the players not being printed anywhere on their jerseys, it turns out that the average fan looking for merchandise from their favorite NCAA athlete can find them by searching using their names.

I would say that's directly profiting off those players, or student-athletes as I'm sure the NCAA would prefer that they are referred to.

Paying those college players is a complicated situation, one that doesn't have a simple answer.

The Alabama football team generates millions, but I'm guessing the Alabama swimming and diving team doesn't even turn a profit.

Should all college athletes be paid or only the ones in the revenue-producing sports on the most successful teams?

Hopefully, the tweets by Bilas will generate a discussion to try to solve those issues, but I think most would agree that Manziel should be able to profit off his name if the NCAA is going to.

 
 

 

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