The NCAA recently told Texas A&M University that their Heisman winning quarterback Johnny Manziel would be allowed to keep any money won in a copyright infringement lawsuit which his attorneys filed against a fan whom they accused of selling “Keep Calm and Johnny Football” t-shirts without his permission.
Many college football fans were outraged with the decision considering it would create a huge loophole and set a dangerous precedent that would go against the very purpose of the NCAA–to make sure their collegiate athletes remain amateurs by keeping them from earning money for playing college sports.
Wealthy boosters and athletes across the country saw this decision as a green light to engage in unethical, but now acceptable, means of funneling money to star players and recruits. Now, however, the NCAA’s stance on the issue has been somewhat clarified.
An administrator at Texas A&M, Shane Hinckley, said that the NCAA told them that if it was an orchestrated ploy between a student-athlete and a booster, then that would fall under illegal benefits and the organization would be forced to step in.
My question to them is this: How would they even know if an event was orchestrated or not? For years, boosters have been one step ahead of the NCAA, and this would be no different.
Allowing an athlete to cash-in on money won in a lawsuit is still a dangerous and slippery slope as it relates to a player’s amateur status and therefore their college eligibility.
I’m not saying it’s fair for people to make money off an athletes’ name and/or likeness; however, by allowing them to keep money from copyright suits, the NCAA would open a Pandora’s Box that would be incredibly hard to police.
One possible compromise would be for the NCAA to allow any earnings from a court case to be placed into a fund to be paid off when the athletes’ collegiate eligibility is expired. I am sure there are several other reasonable options out there as well.
Regardless, whether or not the NCAA is aware of this potential loophole (which I am certain they are), there is no doubt they are undermining the primary purpose of their very existence if they allow college athletes to be paid while they still have eligibility remaining.
Someone has to protect the integrity of collegiate athletics. If not the NCAA, then who else would it be?