Murphy's Law Amends Opinion

8/31/2013

It's time to start letting athletes share in the college wealth

It's time to start letting athletes share in the college wealth

I've changed my mind.

I didn't think I ever would. Despite past scandals, debate and arguments, I always felt that a college education was payment enough for student-athletes.

Not anymore.

Johnny Manziel changed all that.

The Texas A&M quarterback has been immersed in scandal most of the summer.

After stupid Tweets, more stupid remarks and even more stupid pictures of him imbibing with alcohol despite being under the legal drinking age, his name got him into more hot water.

He has been accused of profiting from signing his autograph on memorabilia that will be sold to fans and collectors.

His punishment? He will miss the first half of the team's season-opener.

The NCAA brought the hammer down — a Nerf hammer — and decided Manziel "inadvertently" signed the memorabilia.

I guess he slipped and accidentally wrote his name thousands of times on pictures, footballs and helmets.

As one former football coach said, "if Manziel took cash and lied about signing, he's going to get away with it."

It looks like he got away with it.

But morality aside, Manziel has brought millions of dollars to the university after leading the football team to a successful season and winning the Heisman Trophy last year as college's best player.

If the university can bank on Manziel, why shouldn't he be allowed to profit from signing his own name?

The university makes millions from Manziel's success on the field and just as much from selling his jersey and other memorabilia related to the Big Man on Campus.

You can argue that this type of issue is what's wrong with big time college sports, and you would be right.

But there's no closing the barn door now. College sports is a business, and the notion it is pure amateurism is a long-forgotten fairy tale.

Only the naive believe universities are a haven for student-athletes to get an education and enjoy participating in sports.

Universities are now a stopgap before turning pro for athletes, many of whom could care less about an education, let alone a free one.

We think of college sports as just kids playing games, but it is as much about making money as any for-profit business.

Yes, there are still places where the term student-athlete is not a joke. There are some big schools who feel that way, but none ranked among the Top 25, and none among the big-time sports programs.

College football, and in some cases basketball, pay for the other sports on campus.

We may enjoy watching volleyball, baseball and wrestling, but without football, they would not exist on many campuses.

With all the money generated on these campuses, a football player like Manziel ought to be able to make a little money from signing his name.

The time has come for the NCAA to stop ignoring what is going on at these schools, with boosters financing programs and players, and allow the money-makers on campus to share in the profits.

No place else do you show up for work, help the company make money, and go home every night penniless.

Only in the world of the NCAA and college athletics is this called fair.

Patrick Murphy, of Humphrey, Neb., is a former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.

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