University of Georgia running back and Heisman Trophy candidate Todd Gurley has been suspended indefinitely for a possible NCAA violation, the school announced on Thursday.
According to widespread reports, the alleged violation has to do with Gurley getting paid for his autograph.
Specifically, a person told the school that he paid Gurley $US400 to sign a bunch of stuff, according to Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples.
While the exact identity of this person is unknown, a self-proclaimed memorabilia dealer has been emailing various media outlets for weeks trying to get them to write a story about Gurley taking money for autographs. Both SB Nation and Deadspin say they were contacted by the person, and in an email to Deadspin the person claims he also contacted TMZ and Sports Illustrated.
In an email to SB Nation, he wrote:
“I have video of Todd Gurley doing a private autograph signing ***. He has been paid thousands of dollars for his stuff over the last 18 months. I personally paid him for this signing on the video. I have bought and sold game used equipment from him.
“I want no compensation. Just want someone to leak this story that’s deserving.”
In an email to Deadspin, he offered the same video and said he was ratting Gurley out because Gurley had done autograph signings with other dealers, hurting the value of his Gurley-signed memorabilia:
“Again, not trying to get rich. I spent a few grand on the signing and Gurley has since kind of screwed me by doing this with about 30 other guys. The stuff has lost a ton of its value. Just wanna recoup some of my money.”
No media outlets bit on the tip. Gurley was only suspended when a person told Georgia that he paid Gurley $US400 for some autographs, according to the SI report.
Under NCAA rules, schools have to declare players ineligible if they’re aware of any possible NCAA violation. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Gurley’s suspension will likely last through the rest of the season, effectively ending his college career.
To recap, a vindictive autograph dealer — who is free to make money off the name and likeness of college athletes who are barred from doing so themselves — felt slighted by Gurley and tried to rat him out to the media. A few days later an autograph dealer (who may or may not be the same person) went to Georgia and told them he paid Gurley $US400. And now Gurley’s career is probably over.
It’s unfair on a number of levels.
Gurley should have never been barred from selling autographs in the first place. The fact that Todd Gurley is the only person in the world who can’t make money off the name “Todd Gurley” is absurd. Even if you don’t want college athletes to be paid salaries, it’s hard to justify making something as petty as an autograph a major crime.
Johnny Manziel, who found himself in a similarly frivolous autograph scandal last year, has seen this before:
It’s also unfair that the NCAA investigation into Gurley’s case last for weeks, forcing him to set out of game after game even he’s cleared of any allegations. All over $US400.
In the end a lone autograph dealer who allegedly paid a player a negligible amount of money might have single-handedly ended that player’s career over something that’s only illegal within the contrived ethical structure of the NCAA.
The NCAA finds itself executing the vendetta of a bag man against a player, which tells you everything you need to know about that system’s priorities and biases.
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