A&M Chancellor: How can NCAA make money off Manziel, but not Manziel?

Brandon Wade

John Sharp, Chancellor of Texas A&M University, questions how the NCAA can justify making millions off of Johnny Manziel while prohibiting Manziel from making any money.

This is somewhat off-topic, but it is a topic that I find fascinating, so I'm writing about it anyway...

John Sharp, the Chancellor of Texas A&M University, said the following today:

I also think that there’s something, you know this is just me talking not as chancellor of the system, something is wrong with the system when we can make money off of our football players, the NCAA make money off of our football players and they can’t be treated like Olympic athletes.

I suspect, courts or somebody or the NCAA is going to have to take a look at that and see whether or not they’re violating someone’s anti-trust deal. How can the NCAA, for instance, make money off of his jerseys and he can’t, you know, make two bucks off of signing something like that, like other athletes can who happen to be in the Olympics? That’s just my opinion.

For the Chancellor of a major university like Texas A&M to so nakedly call out the hypocrisy of the NCAA on this issue is amazing.  While more and more people are pointing out how ridiculous it is for universities to make millions off football and basketball players when they restrict their compensation to a scholarship, those within the system have generally kept closed ranks.

At least, until now.

Between Johnny Manziel and the Ed O'Bannon case, we may be seeing a dramatic shift in how college athletes will be allowed to cash in on their fame themselves, rather than allowing the NCAA and the universities to exploit them unchecked.  It makes no sense -- zero, zip, none -- for Johnny Manziel, or Jadeveon Clowney, or Tajh Boyd, or any other athlete not to be able to get paid for their autograph, to sell their likeness, to be able to be compensated because of their fame.

The reason for the restriction is because a lot of people in positions of power -- university presidents, athletic directors and coaches, primary -- stand to lose a lot of money if these athletes are treated fairly.  Nick Saban is making $5.62 million this season.  The cost of attending Alabama, per their website, is $12,030 per semester for an in-state student.  With 85 scholarship athletes, that totals $2,045,100 per year.  In other words, the NCAA would have you believe that a system where a coach is valued at more than twice what every one of his players is, combined, is right.

Its indefensible, absolutely indefensible.  College athletes should be allowed to be paid for their autographs, paid for appearances, paid by whoever wants to pay them.

The most common objection to this is, "But what would keep some millionaire from giving out tens of thousands of dollars to the best players at his school?"

My response to that is:  Nothing.  If a wealthy UT alum wants to dole out wads of cash to a stud Longhorn player, what is wrong with that?  If a loaded Aggie wants to pay Manziel $100,000 to come hang out with him and his rich buddies for an evening, so what?  That's capitalism at work.

I suspect we'll see major changes coming down the pike.  I'd bet that by 2020, college players are going to be treated like Olympic athletes, able to profit off their fame and abilities, rather than universities and the NCAA having the exclusive right to exploit them.

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