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Ken Medlin

NCAA in a tricky situation with Manziel

Posted August 15, 2013
Updated August 16, 2013

Another summer, another crisis for the NCAA.

Johnny Manziel's alleged autograph-selling raises more than its share of questions for an organization whose management seems to be under fire daily. From a big-picture perspective, why shouldn't an athlete – college or pro – be able to trade on his or her own name? I mean, what's more personal than your name? 

The common argument against allowing such practices by athletes is the "slippery slope" theory. If an athlete is allowed to profit from signing his/her name on an item, then what's to stop a big-money booster from buying the autograph at a hugely inflated price? (With a wink and a nod, of course...) Such "extra benefits" have probably been around for as long as collegiate athletics have been played, but when they're not out in the open, it's easy for the NCAA to turn a blind eye.

Which brings us to Manziel. On the one hand, I have no problem with him being paid to sign autographs. It's his name, after all.

But right now, that's against the rules, and if the NCAA is able to prove Manziel really did receive payouts in the five-figure range, then he should never play another college football game. None of this "sit him two games and see what happens" talk I see occasionally online – when the benefits (and that's what these payouts would be considered) number in the tens of thousands, you should be done as a college athlete. Just ask Marvin Austin. Manziel's benefits would dwarf those reported for Greg Little and Robert Quinn, who also lost their eligibility.

I'm sure the folks at UNC, Ohio State and USC will be watching to see what the NCAA does. And then there's Dez Bryant. If anyone has reason to be angry if Manziel skates on this, it's him.

I never had a problem with the Austin/Quinn/Little dismissals – they broke the rules. But is there really a big difference between accepting money from autograph brokers (who want your business as an athlete) and accepting money from agents or jewelers who also want your business as an athlete? If Manziel broke the rules, he should be punished accordingly regardless of whether or not he's the Heisman Trophy winner.

The bottom line is the NCAA needs to be consistent when handing out punishments  – and the perception is they haven't always been very consistent.

This is a tricky situation for the NCAA. Manziel is a popular, high-profile player, and in truth, it's hard to fault a guy for accepting payments for his signatures – especially considering the memorabilia brokers will profit immensely from his autographs. And let's not forget the NCAA has been profiting as well from team and player-related memorabilia.

But if the NCAA allows Manziel to slide (assume there is proof of the allegations), the old Jerry Tarkanian quote will come to mind - the one about the NCAA being so mad at Kentucky, they punished Cleveland State.

Luckily for Cleveland State, they don't have football. Yet.

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  • free2bme Aug 16, 8:41 a.m.

    NCAA has to be consistent with this one. If Manziel broke the rules he should be out like all the others before him. Why is it all of a sudden ok for college players to take money for their services whethe it be autograph session or whatever. If there is such a problem with the rule, then one one should be focused on altering that rule. Manziel is a spoiled rich kid who thinks he is above the rules. He has had many instances here he has broken the rules and had run ins at bars. I just wish his parents would get him the help he needs for his anger and alcohol issues. I don't think Manziel is a bad kid but he definitely needs boundaries and counseling.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Aug 16, 9:13 a.m.

    From the article: "On the one hand, I have no problem with him being paid to sign autographs. It's his name, after all."

    Before you can argue this point, you have to define how the word "name" is being used here. Yes, his name is Johnny Manziel. Given to him by his parents. But the name being signed is MUCH more than a simple name given to him by his parents. That 'name', or rather what that name means, was basically created by the NCAA. If there was no NCAA, that 'name' would be worthless. It was JUST a name when he was born. But the NCAA "gave" him a vehicle to make that name into a high priced item. The NCAA doesn't own his name. But they DO own what they have made that name into. They bought it when they 'allowed' him to play in THEIR league. It is the NCAA's right to tell you what you can and can't do with the name the NCAA basically created.

  • Ken D. Aug 16, 10:55 a.m.

    From the article: "On the one hand, I have no problem with him being paid to sign autographs.... View More

    — Posted by DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT

    You are right, in the sense that the name he is selling looks like "Johnny Manziel", but in reality it is "Johnny Football". And certainly the NCAA and Texas A&M contributed to making that moniker valuable. But so did he. I think what many are saying is that the players deserve at least a cut of the millions they are earning for others.

    All indications are that the NCAA is running scared right now, and well they should be. If they aren't willing to make some relatively minor changes, and soon, the entire structure of college sports is likely to be a victim of their stubbornness.

  • Gunnstigator Aug 16, 12:18 p.m.

    The NCAA is indeed in a "sticky situation", and not just with Johnny Football. There is no consistency in the punishments they hand down, and the comment about them being so mad at one high profile school, they punished a very low profile school, may have been said sort of tongue in cheek, but it's pretty much spot on. One school gets in trouble because an athlete washed her car using the school hose, water and soap, and you have Cam Newton's father shopping him around to the highest bidder with no punishment, Ohio State football players serving their suspension AFTER their bowl game, and the list goes on. The NCAA is a dumpster fire, and I can only hope some schools use their hose, water and soap to extinguish that smoldering mess in Indianapolis for good.

  • Ken D. Aug 16, 1:27 p.m.

    The NCAA is indeed in a "sticky situation", and not just with Johnny Football. There is no... View More

    — Posted by Gunnstigator

    You go, girl!

  • Sauras69 Aug 16, 2:16 p.m.

    Manziel should not be allowed to play. Period. The NCAA may make the call, or they may simply pass on this one, and give him a slap on the wrist. His parents have hired high powered lawyers that specialize in the laws of the NCAA. The school has hired some powerful lawyers as well. Anyone's guess right now.

  • Gunnstigator Aug 16, 2:17 p.m.

    The NCAA is indeed in a "sticky situation", and not just with Johnny Football. There is no... View More

    — Posted by Gunnstigator

    You go, girl!

    — Posted by Ken D.

    I think Jay Bilas would be more than willing to help put out that dumpster fire:-)

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