Saturday, August 10, 2013

NCAA Investigation of Texas A&M Star Johnny Manziel Illustrates a Huge Problem for College Athletics

And Maybe an Insurmountable Problem for the NCAA – Which is a Good Thing

The hypocrisy of college football is now in full display with a controversy and investigation surrounding Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.  Mr. Manziel is under suspicion for the crime of signing autographs.

On Sunday night, ESPN, citing anonymous sources, reported the N.C.A.A. was investigating whether Manziel, last season’s Heisman trophy winner, pocketed a “five-figure flat fee” to sign autographs at the Bowl Championship Series national title game in January in South Florida.

Now the NCAA has the position that everyone is entitled to make millions off of college football, except of course the athletes themselves.  Furthermore, these athletes do not have any basic rights with respect to an investigation by the NCAA.

Mr. Manziel upon learning that he has the same rights in an NCAA investigation as a
political opponent of Russian President Putin

Manziel is required to cooperate with the organization and its investigators if he wants to remain eligible. He is required to hand over bank records if requested. He will be required to explain any deposits that raise eyebrows. 

But NCAA has a huge problem here.  If it does find Mr. Manziel violated its rules and does not take action against him, the double standard of one set of rules for stars and one set for everyone else will be exposed.  But if the NCAA suspends Mr. Manziel for getting a flat fee for signing his name, it will focus national attention on its policies of exploitation.  And that is the last thing the NCAA wants.

So in the end the NCAA may come out of all of this as a weakened institution, and maybe just maybe that will stimulate the much needed reforms in college athletics.  And if those reforms require destruction of the NCAA, well that’s just icing on the reform cake.

One thing is a near certainty, in early September what might be the game of the year has Texas A&M playing Alabama.  There is not way the NCAA will act before that game, too much money is involved and the one thing the NCAA values above all else is money.

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