Memo to NCAA: You Should Support the Player Autograph Biz
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Back in the 1950s, Washington Huskies legend and future NFL Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny remarked that he had to take a pay cut when he went from college football to the pros.
A few decades earlier, the legendary George Gipp was as well known for being Nôtre Dame's in-house bookie as he was the featured Fighting Irish running back.
Who knows? If this scene actually happened in real life, he probably wanted the boys to win one so he could cover:
Hell, back in the day, the likes of Johnny Manziel and Todd Gurley would be considered fools for not cashing in and/or carousing more than they did. And Jameis Winston would be heralded for turning himself into the Costco of autographs.
No one is naïve enough to think there's a shadow economy for student-athletes. Former South Carolina QB Steve Garcia didn't raise many eyebrows among this crowd when he confirmed its existence for public consumption.
What with the O'Bannon lawsuit smashing the NCAA in court and the upcoming Kessler case ready to finish the job and totally change the structure of college athletics, shouldn't the poobahs consider declaring an amnesty on enterprises like autograph signings until a realistic policy on dosh for jocks can be derived?
The issue anymore isn't should college athletes be paid, but how. And the Olympic model would be a good place to start, as it's a meld of what already happens in college sports programs now and what earnings go directly to the athlete.
Instead of being a den of hypocrisy, the ivory towers of academic institutions should embrace student-athlete revenue generation as a teaching experience in private enterprise instead of harboring it as a privilege for its own social circles.
In the end, the schools might be cultivating even more future donors for themselves.