As the governing body of collegiate athletics, the NCAA has been ridiculed and scrutinized over the years because of their inconsistent and sometimes completely unjust decisions, and rightfully so. In fact, they’ve been something of a laughingstock, punishing smaller colleges and less-known athletes while turning a blind eye on some of the more popular ones.
Now, with their latest ruling, they may have rendered themselves completely obsolete.
The number one priority of the NCAA is to ensure that its athletes maintain amateur status by forbidding them to receive extra benefits, but with their latest decision in the Johnny Manziel lawsuit, they are allowing just that. By declaring that a student athlete can keep earnings as a result of legal action, they’ve opened up a dangerous loophole that undermines their entire purpose for their existence: to keep their amateur athletes from being paid for their participation in collegiate sports.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel is suing a fan for creating and selling t-shirts that read, “Keep Calm and Johnny Football,” a name that Manziel’s attorneys recently trademarked. If he wins, and he likely will, Manziel stands to earn thousands of dollars as a result of this legal action.
As we all know, college athletes are forbidden from making money off of products that use their name or likeness so as not to infringe upon their amateur status and thereby affect their eligibility.
But now, with their latest ruling, the NCAA is headed down a slippery slope. What’s to keep rich boosters from creating a product using the name or likeness of one of their school’s athletes or recruits, selling the product, and then having the athlete turn around and sue him for damages? Nothing. The athlete will ultimately get paid, and according to the NCAA, this is perfectly acceptable now–one just has to be a bit more creative.
Whether or not you believe that college athletes should get paid or that athletes should receive the profits that people make by using their names doesn’t matter here–that’s an entirely different issue. What matters is that the NCAA has rules in place to protect the the amateur status of their athletes by ensuring that they do not receive any money that would impact their eligibility. It appears that now the NCAA is guilty of violating its own rules.
By allowing this, the organization has thereby rendered themselves completely useless and opened up door for the passing out of illegal benefits that could change the face of college football as an amateur sport.
A dangerous precedent indeed, and one that completely undermines the primary purpose of the NCAA itself.