If you’re like me, you’re no doubt enjoying the fact that the NCAA has been beaten like a rented mule as of late, specifically in the exposure of "amateurism" as a sham within its member institutions. I’ve enjoyed watching the progression of the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit as it achieves victory after victory. I took particular pleasure in following Jay Bilas single-handedly take down the NCAA shop website this week, exposing the hypocrisy of selling game jerseys based on searches of specific player names. (An offshoot of this finding was that of potential profit from PSU merchandise celebrating wins that "never happened.")
I must mention that I am heavily in favor of college athletes having the opportunity to profit off of their own name and likeness. I am not, however, in favor of colleges and universities paying their athletes a dime beyond the scholarships they are afforded. When I consider the fact that the NCAA is run by university freaking presidents, supposedly some of the smartest and most educated people in the country, I am reminded that more education does not equal more common sense. (There may actually be an inverse relationship here, but that’s a discussion for another time.) The solution is so simple that even a 31 year-old schoolteacher with a somewhat confusing BSD handle can come up with it. That being said, I will humbly present my proposal for collegiate athlete name and likeness compensation…
Any student athlete that is talented enough to warrant a scholarship, full or partial, gets to choose between two options from a school.
Option 1: The athlete accepts a scholarship, at which point he or she relinquishes all rights to his or her name and likeness. Any money the school might make off of them, the school keeps.
Option 2: The athlete declines the scholarship, opting to use the free market to profit off of his or her name and likeness. No scholarship money is given. The athlete will be responsible for paying for tuition, room and board.
That’s it. Problem solved. No ridiculous calculations for determining how much extra money football players or basketball players or the 3rd member of the women’s 400-medley relay team will get. The ball is in the athlete’s court. (See what I did there?) Now the athlete must determine the most cost-effective route to take, teaching him or her a valuable lesson in economics in the process. Think you can make more money off of your name and likeness than your scholarship is worth? Go for it. Gamble on it and lose out, that’s life, baby! I guarantee that pretty quickly, after watching a number of their peers fail miserably at this, most collegiate athletes will come to realize the value of their scholarship and be happy with it. This will also allow the top tier athletes to recognize their market value, so the Johnny Manziels of the world can cut a check for three years of tuition and keep the remaining 9.5 million dollars that they’re worth. (If you’re thinking this will only work for football and basketball players, you’re mostly correct. However, consider athletes in Olympic sports like Missy Franklin in swimming.)
This brings me to my final point, and the reason for the post title. I can imagine that a system like this has the potential to breed some pretty creative thinking. Consider Shane McGregor (the reason I proudly rocked my #2 jersey after D-Will graduated), and the truckloads of money just sitting out there in hair care product endorsements. Who the hell wouldn’t buy some Sunshine Hair Care product? You’d be stupid not to. How about Matt McGloin? The dude worked his ass off to earn that scholarship, but could more money have been lurking elsewhere? Maybe a cleaning agent specifically designed to remove grass stains acquired from stumbling over your own two feet called "Moxie-Clean?" Or a line of more flexible knee braces to prevent such falls? Heck, John Urschel could give back his scholarship and just get paid as a professor. (#culture) I’m pretty sure they make more than twenty-some grand a year.
Well, there you have it. This was my first crack at a Fanpost, so if you’ve read this far I’m freaking thrilled. Feel free to shoot holes through the proposal in the comments section, as I am certain there are about 8,000 legal considerations I failed to recognize. Also, I was hoping that comments could also include a laundry list of past and present college athletes, specifically Penn Staters, and the endorsements they might get.