Johnny Manziel & Autographs: Pay College Athletes

As you know by now, Texas A&M and Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel aka Johnny Football is being investigated by the NCAA for alleging being paid for his autograph.

This clearly is an NCAA violation. I’m not here to discuss if he should be ineligible or not.

I think it’s clear, we’re moving closer and closer to college athletes being paid in some form by either the NCAA or by the colleges.

College athletes (as well as high school athletes) are highly sought after for their autograph. Everyone wants something signed by the potential next superstar. They want it either to resell later for a vast sum of money, or they want to collect it and say I met this player before he was “Mr. Big Shot.” For example…

Jabari Parker is considered a guaranteed Top 5 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft should he enter.  He has been on the cover of Sports Illustrated and was one of the top high school players this past season.  Those who are not even Duke fans will be seeking his autograph before and after games/events or when he is out in public.  He will not charge for those items or be paid for those items, but you can bet it won’t be long before those items are up on ebay for purchase.

That’s fine. Athletes are celebrities. So why shouldn’t they be compensated for their autograph? The people taking up their time can sell the items. We already know NCAA and colleges make money off the athletes through tickets and jersey sales. And don’t give me the “they get a free ride line.” I wasn’t a college athlete, however, there are expenses you have scholarships won’t cover. And not all have parents able to provide spending money to go out with friends for pizza and a movie.

I’m not saying let the athlete just accept any amount for autographs. You could run into the possibility a booster pays an athlete millions to attend a certain school an exchange for their signature.

I think, if the NCAA set up a sliding scale for athletes, and a contract for player, college, and venue seeking to have player sign the autographs, then you could, in theory, have a system in place for everyone involved to happy. The NCAA knows, especially in basketball and football, who will be stars or high draft picks. I’m sure they can work with MLB & NHL to identify top prospects as well.

Is the idea perfect? No. Is it better than saying an athlete can’t sell something only they own? Yes.

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