Sunday, January 16, 2011

It not how much money you make, but who you can make it for...

  Congratulations to the Auburn Tigers on winning this year’s college football National championship. They were led to the crown by their star quarterback, Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. It was alleged and verified by the NCAA that Newton’s father, Cecil had offered the services of his son to Mississippi State University for $180,000 last year before his son agreed to play for Auburn this year. The NCAA said that since Newton did not know of his father’s actions, he was eligible to play for the Tigers in the Southeast Conference and National championship games.

  It’s said that when there is smoke, there’s fire and I’m sure that there will be many private investigations into whether Cam Newton knew about his father shopping him around and whether Auburn did on fact pay for his services for this football season. I doubt the NCAA wanted to remove their major TV attraction just before the championship game, but now that Newton has ended his college career by declaring for the NFL draft, the investigation will begin in earnest. This is the same tactic they used with Reggie Bush 5 years ago. There were a lot of allegations and the signs were obvious that Bush and his family were receiving payments from sports marketers hoping to cash in on Bush’s fame after leaving college. The most obvious sign of payment was Bush’s parents living rent free in a $750,000 house in San Diego. But the NCAA stuck their heads in the sand until Bush was done with his college career and only got into the act when Bush and his parents were sued by their ‘benefactors’ for failing to repay their largesse. Only 5 years after Bush’s last college game, did the NCAA issue their findings of wrongdoing and made USC forfeit their wins during that period. The NCAA will not have to forfeit any of the TV revenue they collected from Bush’s image during this period.

  5 players from the Ohio State University football team were found to have exchanged signed memorabilia for free tattoos. They were also found to have sold awards for cash. These are clear violations of the NCAA rules, but the 5 players were not suspended for the upcoming Sugar Bowl that would be on national televisions, instead being suspended for the first 5 games in next year’s season. The NCAA’s reason for the delayed penalty was that the players were not informed that their actions were violations by the college. If that was the case, why even suspend them at all? The NCAA was paid half a billion dollars by ESPN to show the 5 major bowl games for 4 years. That’s 25 million dollars a game and why should the NCAA damage it’s most marketable product when they can suspend the players for 5 games next year that will NOT be nationally broadcast.

  I don’t have a problem with players cashing on their college fame. Why not, the schools are making a fortune on their backs. Yes, the athletes are getting a free education, but what is not said loudly is that athletic scholarships are year to year. If a player gets hurt, fails to perform to expectations, or gets on the wrong side of the coach, their scholarship can disappear into thin air. An entire industry is built up over the recruitment and exploitation of the athletes, and it seems that they are the only ones not allowed to cash a check. I’m just pointing out that the NCAA habitually delays punishment for their petty rules when it suits their checkbook.

  While the players can’t sell their awards and jerseys, colleges profit handsomely by having their players wear a particular company’s brand. Michigan University was paid $60 million dollars by Adidas in 2007 to have their players wear their logo on the team’s uniforms for the next 8 years. While the players didn’t benefit, some people other than the university did benefit from this deal. When Michigan head football coach Rich Rodriguez was fired last week, he donated over 400 pieces of his Michigan gear to the Salvation Army. There is no word yet if it will be an NCAA violation if Rodriguez claims a tax deduction for his donation.