Scoggins: In Manziel vs. NCAA, go ahead and blame 'em both

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 12, 2013 - 11:26 PM

The trouble-seeking QB could handle himself better, and the NCAA could end its archaic charade.

hide

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, is under NCAA investigation to determine if he sold autographs for money, which would put his eligibility in question.

Photo: Karen Warren • Houston Chronicle via Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The NCAA reportedly is investigating Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel over allegations that he sold his autograph to memorabilia dealers for a five-figure sum. This could become a watershed case in college athletics, but assigning blame is not a one-sided argument.

Do you blame Manziel for seeking to profit off his fame, success and Johnny Football mystique? Or do you blame a self-serving NCAA that clings to archaic rules and principles.

The answer is yes. Blame both for this messy situation, which has raised questions about Manziel’s eligibility and, in the process, exposed the hypocrisy of college athletics and the NCAA’s culpability.

College sports — football in particular — have become such a financial behemoth that everyone wants and deserves a piece of the action. That quaint notion of amateurism was once a fine concept, but this is not a mom-and-pop operation.

According to estimates, the Big Ten Network will pay each member school at least $30 million annually once Rutgers and Maryland join the conference in 2014 and open doors to new television markets.

Have you seen photos of Oregon’s new football complex? The 145,000-square foot palace reportedly cost $68 million and includes a lobby wall that features 64 55-inch televisions, a barber shop inside the locker room, rugs imported from Nepal and a two-story theater.

Ah, the smell of amateurism.

The anti-NCAA chorus is in full throat over the Manziel investigation, but the Texas A&M quarterback hardly paints himself as a sympathetic figure. If the investigation ultimately discovers that Manziel sold his autograph for profit, he deserves to be punished based on his own selfishness.

Yes, NCAA rules that prohibit athletes from profiting from their likeness or fame are antiquated, but Manziel jeopardized his eligibility and his team’s legitimate national championship aspirations by ignoring a basic rule that every college athlete should know. If true, he went for a money grab because he’s Johnny Football and he does whatever he wants, judging by his eventful offseason activities.

His method was wrong, but his intent makes sense. Johnny Football the player and brand became a cash cow for Texas A&M, but Johnny Manziel the person could only watch as everyone else got rich(er) off his talent.

Jay Bilas, an ESPN college basketball analyst and dogged NCAA critic, further exposed the NCAA’s hypocrisy last week when he typed the name of various college athletes — including Manziel — into a search feature on the NCAA’s merchandise shop website. Replica jerseys without the players’ names appeared.

The online shop also included an autographed photo of former Southern California running back Reggie Bush, who forfeited his Heisman Trophy after an NCAA investigation over improper benefits resulted in heavy sanctions against USC.

NCAA President Mark Emmert promptly announced that the NCAA website no longer will sell player jerseys. Keep in mind the NCAA is being sued by current and former players over the use of their likenesses.

The NCAA and member schools should no longer be allowed to hide behind the shield of amateurism while making obscene profits. The landscape has changed; so should the rules of governance.

The argument that a scholarship represents a suitable trade-off falls short in today’s big-business climate. It’s absurd that an athlete can’t receive money for his autograph, yet his autographed helmet can fetch thousands on eBay.

Would a rule change prevent some unscrupulous booster from paying the star quarterback $100,000 for his autograph? No, but that also could happen with or without an autograph.

The NCAA is considering legislation that covers a full-cost scholarship, which would provide athletes a $2,000 stipend for spending money. Critics argue that a stipend would widen the divide between the haves and have-nots, but an equal playing field doesn’t exist in college athletics, not in this age of lucrative conference TV networks and facilities arms race.

According to various reports, five BCS conferences, including the Big Ten, are primed to form a new division within the NCAA and operate under their own rules. They would have power to enact their own guidelines on everything from stipends to recruiting. Maybe they even would allow athletes to sell their autographs.

College sports feel as if they’ve arrived at a crossroads. The amateurism model is outdated and needs reform. Business is booming, but a star athlete faces significant punishment for allegedly selling his autograph. Something seems fundamentally wrong with that.

 

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel warms up with teammates on the first day of fall practice in College Station, Texas, Monday, Aug. 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Bryan College Station Eagle, Stuart Villanueva)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
FIU 2 FINAL
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 98 FINAL
Miami 115
LA Clippers 110 FINAL
Minnesota 105
New Orleans 93 FINAL
Dallas 102
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 2 FINAL
Chicago 5
Montreal 0 FINAL
San Jose 4
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 FINAL
Howard 61
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 62 FINAL
Savannah State 49
Texas Southern 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 75
Prairie View 67 FINAL
Alabama State 65
Oklahoma 70 FINAL
Iowa State 77
Grambling St 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 66
Boston College 66 FINAL
Virginia Tech 59
Jackson State 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 64
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
UCF 57 FINAL
East Carolina 67
Central Conn St 53 FINAL
Bryant 55
Wagner 66 FINAL
Robert Morris 60
Sacred Heart 75 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
SMU 60 FINAL
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How will the Wild finish out the hockey season?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close