Two weeks ago, the NCAA passed down it’s ruling on Todd Gurley, the University of Georgia’s star running back who was accused of taking money for his autographs. The ruling came down like a thunderbolt from the heavens as the NCAA decided to doll out a four game suspension plus giving back some of the money he earned to local charities and participating in 40 hours of community service.
Sounds like a ruling from the federal court on a criminal.
Immediately following the decision, a Bo Pelini (Coach for the Nebraska Cornhuskers) parody twitter account @FauxPelini (with 140,000 followers) tweeted the following:
UPDATED NCAA SUSPENSION GUIDELINES
1/2 Football Game: Maybe not but probably selling thousands of autographs (2013, Manziel)
1/2 Football Game: Attempted eye-gouging of an opponent (2009, Spikes)
3 Basketball Games: Going into the stands and shoving a middle aged fan (2014, Smart)
4 Football Games: Lots and lots of cash and yachts and strippers (2011, Miami Dudes)
4 Football Games: Accepting $3000 for autographs and being honest about it (2014, Gurley)
5 Football Games: Selling rings and jerseys and getting free tattoos (2010, Pryor)
1 Football Season: Lying about being friends with Deion Sanders (2009, Bryant)
1 Basketball Season: First positive drug test for pot (2014, McGary)
While the tweet was funny, it was an honest look at some of the big time suspensions handed out over the last few years. It doesn’t take a sports fanatic to look at this list and notice there is no rhyme or reason to it. It really does appear to be random punishments handed out at random times.
And this most recent case with Todd Gurley is even more maddening. The NCAA asked Gurley to pay back a portion of the money he made to a charity of his choice. So, was it ok to earn some of the money but not all of it? Why not make him pay back all of it?
And what’s the deal with the community service hours? Really? Is Todd a criminal standing in front of judge?
Should Collegiate Athletes Be Paid?
But, it begs the larger question, should collegiate athletes be paid for their likeness? Even more so, should they be paid in general?
As it is right now, you can walk into the UGA bookstore and buy a Todd Gurley game jersey for just north of $150 dollars. The UGA bookstore is about 100 yards from the entrance to the stadium, the same distance Gurley returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Clemson in the game worn jersey you may have just bought.
Through that transaction, Nike gets paid, Georgia gets paid, and the NCAA gets paid, but not Todd, who gave the jersey its value in the first place. This, of course, is ludicrous.
And not to mention the millions and millions of dollars that Georgia Athletics would bring in if they made it into the new college football playoff. One could argue that Todd Gurley would be the reason.
And yet, he can’t collect some petty cash (in comparison) for his autograph. Problematic, isn’t it?
However, let’s say the NCAA changes the rules. Let’s say they do allow players to start making money. How do they police it? How do they keep it fair?
What’s to stop a crazy, old, rich booster from paying a million dollars to some top prospect for his autograph (these people do exist)? And then, how do you keep it fair so all student athletes get paid the same? Should all student athletes be paid the same?
Of course, you could pay athletes based on their perceived value. But then, you might just make the rest of the team hate the one guy making the money. (Pretty much like everyone hated Manziel.)
I’m not sure I know the right answer to all of this and it’s hard to say one way or the other whether or not student athletes should get paid. And, having attended the University of Georgia, it’s hard to say they don’t already get paid when you see the facilities, weight rooms, locker rooms, and the amount of Nike swag they are all given. There is actually a building behind UGA’s basketball facility (which just got a new weight room) that is just a “student athletes’ study” which has dedicated tutors to do help them with their homework.
So, what do you guys think? Should TG3 be able to make money off his likeness or should he have to watch a street vendor make money of the fact that he got suspended for making money?