NCAA to Manziel: “Good to go, bro”

In case you haven’t heard, the NCAA thinks we’re morons:

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel of No. 7 Texas A&M has been suspended for the first half of Saturday’s season opener against the Rice Owls, A&M and the NCAA announced Wednesday in a joint statement.

The statement said there was no evidence that Manziel received payment for signing autographs.

The NCAA and A&M agreed on the one-half suspension because Manziel violated NCAA bylaw, an NCAA representative confirmed. The rule says student-athletes cannot permit their names or likenesses to be used for commercial purposes, including to advertise, recommend or promote sales of commercial products, or accept payment for the use of their names or likenesses.

There is no truth to the rumor that Manziel’s other punishment options included no pre game meal or spending an hour on his bed “thinking about what he’d done.”

According to the report, Manziel violated ol’ bylaw Here’s what that bylaw says:

Bylaw Advertisements and Promotions Subsequent to Enrollment. Subsequent to becoming a student-athlete, an individual shall not be eligible for participation in intercollegiate athletics if the individual:
a. Accepts any remuneration for or permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind, or
b. Receives remuneration for endorsing a commercial product or service through the individual’s use of such product or service.

Based on what has been reported so far, option “b.” doesn’t seem applicable. Option “a.” can act as sort of a catch-all with two major components: student-athletes being paid directly for use of their likeness or the student-athlete allowing their likeness to be used by others to make money.

So, based on the above, Manziel either pocketed money for his autographs, or he signed a bunch of stuff and knew it would be sold. Whatever he did earned him a suspension of one whole half of a football game.

Like I said above, the NCAA thinks we are morons.

You still don’t understand? Well, consider the case of former Georgia All-American A.J. Green who admittedly sold one of his jerseys for some cash:

“They had every bank statement going back to February ‘09,” Green said. “They looked and saw that [$1,000 deposit] and they were, like, ‘Hey, where did you get the money from?’ I told them. I’m not going to lie to them . . . and jeopardize my whole season.”

Green, eligible to play for the first time this season Saturday at Colorado, spoke to reporters in a UGA conference room Tuesday afternoon — his first interview since being suspended by the NCAA.

The star receiver did not deny knowing that selling the jersey was against NCAA rules, saying he “didn’t really think it through” and “everybody makes mistakes in life.”

Green cooperates completely – after the NCAA approach him to address a rumor – and misses four games. Four games.

Here’s an excerpt from one report related to Manziel:

The Freistat signings, combined with four sessions previously reported by “Outside the Lines,” would makes six signings for three brokers in three states in less than a month for Manziel. Sources said he signed his name more than 4,400 times.

There was a time when Manziel’s school, his conference and the NCAA would have ruled him ineligible. It would have been his burden to prove his innocence. But that was in a different time, when money was a factor, but not THE factor.

Suspending Manziel for one half of football is a joke. The same kind of joke as ruling Cam Newton ineligible and immediately reinstating him. The only people who think these rulings are fair are fans of the schools involved.

Manziel and his school lawyered up and forced the hand of the NCAA. And no one was able to see past the dollars.


DeAnthony Arnett Cleared to Play

In case you missed it:

A little over four months after DeAnthony Arnett decided to transfer from Tennessee to be closer to an ailing family member, and after getting unnecessary pushback from his ex-coach over transfer destinations, the wide receiver has learned that he will indeed play in 2012.
Michigan State announced late Thursday morning that Arnett’s request for a residence waiver has been granted by the NCAA, making him eligible to play immediately during the 2012 season.

That’s great for Arnett and no doubt great for Michigan State.

But I think this bears asking again: If he’s transferring home to help with or be closer to an ailing relative, why should the waiver be granted?  If he was ineligible, he wouldn’t have to worry about preparing for and playing in 12, 13 or 14 games.

Charley Pell’s Legacy

Another one of Bear’s Boys makes it into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame this week:  Charley Pell.

Most of us, when we think of Pell we think of only one thing: he got caught cheating at Florida.  Yes, he did, but there’s much more to the Charley Pell story than just that.  On Monday, Jon Solomon posted a reminder at

Here’s what’s not mentioned.

The phone call Pell received from a stranger saying the ex-coach had saved his son’s life. As described by Pell’s widow, Ward Pell, the stranger was watching “Dateline NBC” as Charley discussed his 1994 suicide attempt and coping with depression. The man went to get his depressed son to watch and found him on his bed with a pistol in his hand. The son got help.

The letter Pell got from a California doctor thanking him for better understanding his father’s suicide. The doctor had hated his father for killing himself. He returned his dad to a pedestal after hearing Pell explain the abyss he sunk to before trying to take his life.

The impact Pell still makes in the mental health community 11 years after dying of cancer.

Four years ago, the Alabama Department of Mental Health made a 17-minute film on Pell’s life to show depression is a treatable illness. Ward Pell, who now lives in Lexington, Ky., still hears from people about the film, particularly high school coaches who show it to players. Ward makes about 10 speeches a year on behalf of mental health organizations.

Pell was definitely persona non grata in the football world after he left Florida.  I can’t imagine how difficult it was for Pell to cope with in addition to or on top of depression.

Here’s another blurb from that article that caught my eye:

“There was a difference in the NCAA then and now,” Ward said. “They decided to become the white knights on charging horses. One of the investigators told us after the fact he had a choice (where to investigate). They had a school in the North and a school in the South and it was January. So where do you think they would go?”

Charley Pell and Florida were guilty of cheating, there’s no doubt about that.  But it does kind of make me wonder who the school in the North was that got a pass.

Be Careful What You Ask For

GTP digs into some NCAA reform here, so I thought I would provide a kindly response:

1) Pass NCAA proposal 2011-97, which allows schools to offer scholarships as multi-year grants.As I posted before, there isn’t a down side to this, other than taking some of the control of the signing process away from the schools.

Yes, there is a down side to this.

If I was handed a multi-year scholarship as a college freshman, how motivated will I be in that second year when I finally get the whiff that I’m not nearly as good as the hometown paper thought I was?

I have a good friend who is a former college football player (Division FCS level).  He started for several years and was a high-character guy; the kind of guy you want on your team.  But every year, he knew the coaches were recruiting to replace him.  It motivated him and fueled his fire to achieve at a very high level.  Multi-year scholarships will change that.

One year scholarships aren’t such a foreign concept.  Most other students on scholarship face annual renewal requirements as well.

2) Allow student-athletes whose scholarships aren’t renewed to transfer to any other school with immediate eligibility. If a coach transferring to a new program doesn’t have to sit out a year, it’s hypocritical to hold players to a more restrictive standard. And it’s harmful to deny them the opportunity to attend a school of their choice on scholarship.

On the surface this sounds good, but in reality creates the possibility of mass chaos. I’m okay with an unconditional transfer if a scholarship isn’t renewed, but I’m not in favor of immediate eligibility. There has to be some barrier that restrains the chaos and sitting out for one season makes the most sense.

Inserting the issue of coaches moving from one school to the next is really apples and oranges to the topic. Student-athletes should be comfortable with the school they choose, as well as with the coach. Unless there are extreme circumstances, a coaching change shouldn’t be the trigger for mass chaos.

3) Allow student-athletes to consult a third-party legal advisor before signing with a school. You know, Indiana State has a point. Signing is confusing enough for 17- and 18-year olds who aren’t exactly the most worldly people; giving schools the opportunity to propose different scholarship offers complicates things even further. The schools have their lawyers. The kids should, too.

Is there anything that now bars a prospect from retaining legal counsel?  I don’t think so.  Surely this isn’t a call for the colleges and universities to pay for that, too.

Let’s face it.  Thousands of students earn scholarships and retain them every year – without any sort of problem.  The last thing we need to do is to get more lawyers involved.

4) Adopt Andy Staples’ proposal to eliminate national signing day. As he puts it, “Want to offer a high-school freshman? Go ahead. But you can’t send him some empty promise. You have to send him a national Letter of Intent. If he signs, you promise one of your 85 scholarships to him for at least a year, and he promises to attend your school for at least a year, whether you’re there or not. Coaches wouldn’t have to baby-sit committed players as rivals swarmed, and players wouldn’t have to worry about a coach giving away the scholarship he already promised to them.” Trust me, that would do more to reduce grayshirting abuses than anything on the books right now.

Of all the proposals offered up, this one is perhaps somewhat workable.  I do think it’s ridiculous to offer scholarships to 15 year olds.  But in reality, how often does this really happen – especially at the major conference level?  In reality, how often is this sort of practice abused?  I honestly don’t know the answer to those questions, but I’m guessing not a lot.  I’m guessing most SEC level schools are wooing kids to get them on campus – either via a camp, unofficial or official visit.

Related to “greyshirting abuses” I would ask the same things.  Who is actually being abused?  Is it the actual player (yes, that does happen from time to time) or the fickle fan of an opposing school?  Correct me if I’m wrong, but there is nothing wrong with greyshirting a player.  Abuses come when coaches lie to prospects.  That’s always wrong and my hope for correcting this sort of thing is that the market takes care of offending coaches.  High school coaches and handlers like to be viewed as protecting their players and when guys like Steve Spurrier or Les Miles abuse a greyshirt, well, hopefully word will get out.  The assumption is that greyshirts are always lied to and that assumption is just wrong.

5) Allow student-athletes who are draft-eligible to sign with an agent. They’ve gone to school and developed marketable skills, supposedly the point of an education. Yet as they weigh the prospects of future employment against remaining in school, the only advice they’re allowed to get is from their coaches and the NFL. Good thing there are no conflicts of interest there. Like it or not, players need their own source for advice. To keep things on the up-and-up, agents would have to be certified by the NCAA and would not be allowed to pay players. It’s got to turn out better than the crap we’re seeing now.

“Certified by the NCAA and not allowed to pay players.”  Big chuckle.  We want the NCAA to be regulating something else???

Also, it seems to me that the biggest problem with kids turning pro is that agents and outside advisers DO get in the players’ ears and whisper pipe dreams to them.  The NFL really doesn’t give a rip about college football and will take the best players available.  Period.  College coaches, by default it would seem, would want top pro prospects to return, if possible.  That may not be a perfect system, but there is enough tension for the players to get decent advice.

I’m actually for players being able to retain agents – and I’m even for agents being able to pay players.  I haven’t quite figured out how to manage this to protect the integrity of the game, but I’m for it.  In general, if an agent advances a player money, that should be between the player and the agent.  If the player never produces and the agent takes a loss, so be it.  However, I do recognize that there’s a ton of room for inappropriate behavior in this arrangement.

6) Either the players get to profit off their likenesses, or nobody does. Of all the bullshit that emanates from the NCAA and the schools, there’s nothing bullshittier than how the institutions are allowed to generate revenue from a player’s name, but the player isn’t. It’s a corrosive practice. It demeans the NCAA official stance on amateurism. Either end it completely, or devise a system that lets the players share the wealth. What’s wrong with a 50/50 split on jersey sales, for example? Yes, guidelines would need to be put in place to make sure that rogue boosters don’t game things, but if schools stay in the loop, I think the NCAA can come up with something that’s fair. (And for those of you about to get on your high horse about players receiving pay for their ability to play well, let me remind you that the NCAA allows for student-athletes who are professionals in one sport to play as amateurs in another. Hard to see how one’s okay and not the other.)

Its ideals like these that wind up banning collegiate apparel sales.

“It demeans the NCAA official stance on amateurism. Either end it completely, or devise a system that lets the players share the wealth.”  Really?  I though paying players demeaned the idea of amateurism?

Yes, I know that Bama fans are buying a ton of #3 jerseys and I know why – because of Trent Richardson (sorry Vinnie Sunseri).  But I fail to see the correlation between a player earning a $100,000 (or more) education and the responsibility to pay him a percentage of revenue from jersey sales.

By the way, how would we calculate the checks for Mark Barron and Marquis Maze this year and when would we stop sending checks to Kenny Stabler, Joe Namath and Greg McElroy?

College athletics is a mess, I’ll grant you that.  Over the last three decades it has grown into a huge business – a huge business based on a fundamentally flawed model.  But just because it sports a flawed business model, that doesn’t mean that any old change is good.  So we better be careful what we ask for.


Michigan Compliance Department Goes on Stand-By

How long before we see these on Ebay?

Say it isn’t so.

Please say that after what happened at Ohio State, the University of Michigan isn’t letting its football players keep the throwback jerseys worn in the Wolverines’ last-second victory over Notre Dame.

No athletic director who pays attention to the world, and conference, around him would say “yes” to such a request.

And yet, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon, after checking with his NCAA compliance officer, acceded to the players’ wishes. They get to keep the jerseys.

While this is not a violation of NCAA rules, it is a violation of common sense.

via WOODY: Michigan’s jersey giveaway sets a dangerous precedent | Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Pot Stirring

USA Today asks the question:

There’s a perceived double standard between how the NCAA deals with coaches implicated in wrongdoing and how players who run afoul of NCAA rules are penalized. Given the ongoing NCAA investigation at Miami, will former Hurricane coaches now at other schools be penalized if violations are found?

via Will two former Miami assistants now at Alabama, Louisville be punished?.

If found guilty, of course they will.  If found guilty.

The real question to be asked is why run this piece when you already know the answer?

This One’s on Auburn

Apparently the same Auburn NCAA compliance staff that miraculously guided Cam Newton from ineligible-to-eligible in less than 24 hours last year wasn’t so Johnny-on-the-spot with Eltoro Freeman:

Auburn senior linebacker Eltoro Freeman was ruled ineligible for Saturday’s season opener against Utah State because of an “administrative oversight” in his eligibility process, the university announced Saturday.

“I hate it for Eltoro that this occurred because this is on Auburn,” Tigers coach Gene Chizik said in a statement.

Freeman was declared ineligible by the NCAA for the game, but the school said he is expected to be available for next week’s game against Mississippi State.