The Johnny Manziel Autograph Scandal Is Everything That's Wrong With The NCAA

Texas A&M quarterback
Johnny Manziel is under NCAA investigationfor allegedly selling his autograph, ESPN’s Darren Rovell reports.

According to two ESPN sources, Manziel received a “five-figure” payment in exchange for signing photos, mini helmets, and other memorabilia during a trip to Miami last January.

If the accusation is true (a big if, mind you), it’d be a clear NCAA violation and Johnny Football could be ruled ineligible.

In other words, the most popular player in one of the most lucrative sports in the country could be banned because he, by rule, can’t profit off his own name.

This is NCAA hypocrisy at its peak.

The only person who can’t profit off Johnny Manziel is Johnny Manziel. He can’t profit off his ability to play football or sell tickets. He can’t profit off his face or jersey. He can’t even profit off writing his name on a piece of paper.

Under NCAA rules, Texas A&M owns him. They are the ones who get to exploit him for profit, however indirectly.

Texas A&M can sell his #2 jersey in its team store. EA Sports can include a quarterback with the same height, attributes and number on Texas A&M in its video game. ESPN and CBS can put his face in promotional material for upcoming games and shows.

Texas A&M made $US119 million in revenue on athletics last year. The 12 SEC schools combined made ~$US1.2 billion.

That money comes from a product of which players, specifically stars players like Manziel, are a key part.

I realise that college sports is a fragile ecosystem where the existence of nearly every sport is completely dependent on the nourishment of football and men’s basketball money.

I realise Johnny Football has done some dumb things this offseason, and it would be idiotic of him to sell autographs when he knows its an NCAA violation.

But the fact that a player is the only one who can’t make money off his own name is outrageous.

This reported NCAA investigation isn’t about corruption. This isn’t a coach paying a recruit cash to come to his school. This isn’t about a player getting out of legal trouble because of his status as a football player. This isn’t about a player hurting himself or others, or doing anything illicit whatsoever.

This is about the NCAA preserving its hypocritical system of selective amateurism.

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