By now we have all heard the allegations against Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M. He is alleged to have taken money from autograph dealers in exchange for his autograph on memorabilia. Not just 1 autograph signing by potentially 4. It came to light after numerous items showed up on eBay with high quality signatures, with inscriptions, and even authenticated by PSA/DNA or JSA, the 2 most prominent autograph authentication companies. All red flags it was a private signing and not some casual fan harassing Johnny at the airport. This would be a violation of NCAA rules and could potentially cost Johnny his NCAA football career.
So what if Johnny took money? It is his name, his signature, he should profit correct? The NCAA is making money off of him by selling jerseys with his jersey # on them and A&M is surely profiting more by increased ticket, concession, and memorabilia sales from all fans who went to see Johnny play.
What is the NCAA really scared about? That somehow if players are able to make money that it would dilute the whole “student-athlete” concept? Or that gambling or other illegal activity will take part (as if it does not already). Or does the NCAA just not want to share the profits?
Wouldn’t it be a good thing to have kids at this age learn how to make and manage money before they are forced to do it when they leave college? I remember my college experience talking very little about how to get a job, manage money, make money, or even start a business. Heck, when they leave college and if they are lucky to get to the NFL, they receive very little training in the financial department from the NFL to begin with. One of the main reasons players end up broke after just a couple years out of football.
What we are suggesting is not to pay players. How do you know how much to pay each player? Where will the money come from? Schools certainly do not want to give up any of their hard earned revenue. Also, players will certainly get jealous of other players making more and take away from the primary purpose of a team = to win games.
What we would like to see happen is give players control over their name and likeness in college. Let them go out and do autograph signings, get jobs, market themselves, and make money. But most importantly gain the experience of working, running a business, learning to negotiate, manage time and money. Most of these guys are not going to make the NFL, NBA, or MLB, so NOW is their time to cash in on their marketability. Wouldn’t it be great for them to leave college with a little money in their pocket, and 4 years of experience managing a job and money? We would say YES. It would be better for them, companies looking to hire, and society as a whole.
OK so you don’t want players walking around with thousands of dollars in their pocket for fear it “corrupts” the student-athlete or takes away from their primary purpose. That’s fine, take all the money they earn while in college and put it into a savings account or mutual funds. Once they graduate or are released from their scholarship, the money is all theirs. Even better, now whey get to learn about investing and the stock market.
From an autograph dealer perspective, doing signings with athletes while in college is perfect. You get the autograph super cheap, during the time when their marketability is arguably at their highest. Also, your customer base will get to meet and greet an athlete that maybe they normally would not be able to do. Once an athlete leaves school, they may or may not come back to do an autograph signing, so this maybe the customers only chance.
Also, this benefits the schools as well. Now dealers and fans can buy licensed memorabilia (jerseys, photos) with the player name on it to get signed. Player gets a royalty rate of say 10% and school makes additional revenue. As the overused saying goes, “a win win.”
What the NCAA currently has set up is clearly not working and they are taking a ton of heat for it. Now comes with question are they willing to do anything about it? Will they put their egos aside and do what is best for the players and college sports as a whole? Our guess is no, that we will continue with this current process until a court case forces them to change.