My articles are almost always about politics. Today will be an extremely rare exception. There are a few advantages to being my own boss and owning the site and this is one of them. Humorously we could call it a reward for success. This site was designed to lose a couple hundred dollars a year and I will report it has successfully reached that “goal” every year to date and 2021 promises to continue the trend.
As all my regular readers know I spent 15 years coaching basketball; seven at the college level. While far from having seen it all I have enough “in the trenches” experience to have some solid opinions about several things. One is student athletes being able to profit from their notoriety. When most of us think about college athletes we think about the stars we see on TV who play for the name schools many of whom will end up playing pro ball. They are a very, very small minority of college athletes!
Without getting into the weeds many compete sans a scholarship. The most glaring example is that the entire Division III level which is without athletic scholarships. For every kid that signs a big contract in the NFL, NBA or MLB there are hundreds who never make a nickel on sports. In many small college towns the star of the team is a big name for a few (often just one) of their four years of competition never to be heard of again once their eligibility is over (hopefully they earn a degree in the process but that is another story for another day). They are a big fish in a little pond. Why not let them profit from that temporary fame by “selling” their image or time? What harm is there from them signing autographs at a car dealership as part of a Saturday promotion or having their picture used by a local restaurant to endorse a certain entrée? There is no rule against putting their picture on the cover of a program the school sells on game day. The difference is who pockets the money.
There are severe restrictions on scholarship student athletes working. While a full ride pays for tuition, books, lodging and food it doesn’t include pocket money. Is it reasonable to expect a young man or women (and there are even fewer post college professional opportunities for women) to forego pocket money for their entire time in college? The harsh reality is that many do not come from families wealthy enough to send them a periodic allowance.
One of the concerns is that if the NCAA changes the rules that certain schools with wealthy alums will start an under the table bidding war for the top prospects. I’ve been away from coaching for decades but I doubt it has completely changed. There has always been a group of dirty programs and I’m sure they are still functioning. The NCAA needs to set realistic rules and then enforce them. Why should a plethora of kids suffer because a few schools (who are well known among their competitors) choose to cheat? If you think the current rules have kept everyone honest you are mistaken.
According to several reports that surfaced last week the NCAA is poised to shortly announce new and reasonable rules regarding student athletes profiting from their image. It’s about time!
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