Why Does the NCAA Refuse to Share with the Real Money Makers?

Sam Rueff, Staff Reporter

Columnist Sam Rueff

Say you see your hero athlete, run up to him or her to get an autograph and then find out they can’t sign anything because of rules.

This is a problem going on and increasingly getting worse in college football. The rule for National Collegiate Athletic Association college football programs is that student-athletes are not allowed to sign autographs and sell them. There are also limits on how many autographs the players can sign.

The major enforcer of this rule is NCAA President Mark Emmert. He has suspended players in the past, for example NFL and former Georgia running back Todd Gurley, and has dealt with other top players who have violated NCAA policy.

Emmert, in College Football Talk’s “NCAA President Mark Emmert Opens up on Autograph Issues,” referred to the rules as “black and white,” that the players should know what is right and wrong.

Emmert, who believes players are compensated enough with the education they receive, said, “Players should be aware of the golden rule; don’t sign autographs for compensation and if you do, players should be prepared for consequences.”

According to Trinity alum, football coach and teacher Devian Logan, who played at Villanova before heading to the Canadian Football League, the rule is unfair and players should be able to sell autographs and not be limited.

Logan said, “It’s not fair for the university to make a profit off the kid, and the kid isn’t allowed to make a profit off the university.”

Logan compares tuition to the $7.3 billion NCAA college football brings in each year.  Players help make all that money for the NCAA and universities by filling up the stands and getting TV rights, but players aren’t given any of that money.

“Athletics drive a university,” said Logan, referring mainly to college basketball and football. “Why couldn’t the players be allowed a little bit of compensation.”

Journalist Rick Reilly in ESPN.com’s “Reilly: Autograph Game Is a Joke” writes about how times have changed, where players used to have clothing lines and video games, compared to now when they are barely allowed to sign an autograph.

“It’s not fair how much a school makes compared to the players,” Reilly wrote.

Reilly cites an incident with Heisman winner Johnny Manziel when Texas A & M sold his memorabilia, and Manziel didn’t get anything from it. Reilly also pointed to a time when players were forced to sign autographs for an event they attended as a team; the school got paid, but the players didn’t get anything. Wrote Reilly: “The profit made by the university is incomparable to the money that (a) student’s education costs.”

Some solutions to this problem may be that players are no longer limited to how many autographs they can sign. The players could work a deal that if their autographs and memorabilia are sold, they get some of the money, an amount agreed to by the NCAA.

Why is the NCAA so hesitant to share with those who bring in the money?