When the news of the 30 minute suspension of the most recent Heisman winner echoed around the world of college football you could hear the ghosts of the NCAA’s past transgressions moan in the wind. The memories of some of the most recent decisions made by the NCAA had no other choice then to cement it’s place at the forefront of the Johnny Manziel conversation. A conversation that it seems that we have been waiting to have for quite some time but as history has taught us “timing is everything.”
[ENTER] Jay Bilas. Literally with this Tweet Mr. Bilas started an eruption that shook up the the Twitter verse and rumbled all the way to the NCAA offices in Indianapolis Indiana where they webmasters were extremely quick to take down the page where you could actually buy Johnny Manziels jersey while also operating on the stance that “student athletes” have no value.Whether you are a fan or not it has been almost impossible to shield yourself from the events over the past years and this is an issue that was around long before Twitter & Jay Bilas.
In a piece for CNN I wrote on how Twitter and the world of athletics have been intertwined and how the power of social media will bring a changing tide to issues that our athletes or television personalities have strong convictions for. I don’t believe Jay Bilas did this to become a leader in a change for the rules of the NCAA but his credibility as an NCCA Athlete, Sports Broadcaster and Attorney resounded among his twitter following and in my opinion cemented down the most valuable building block of change..conversation.
I am admittedly a history nerd and a huge fan in what may have been the best expose of the history of the NCAA written in 2011 by Taylor Branch “The Shame of College Sports” so the conversation is not new but renewed is just as good, history always comes full circle.
The last three years have become a perfect storm for the involvement and the need for conversation and change within the NCAA and the NCAA governing body. I will not delve into the complete history lecture so I will just highlight 2010-2013 just to get the ball rolling. On the heels of the University of Miami & Nevin Shapiro , Reggie Bush, Ohio State, Auburn, Rick Pitino, the tragedy at Penn State, Dez Bryant and of course the highly publicized Johnny Manziel autograph scandal. Pick one, anyone at is core should have been enough to to propel the decision makers to have a step back moment and say ..”something has to change” .
NCAA Bylaw 188.8.131.52 prohibits student-athletes from accepting money for promotion or sale of a product or service, and the act of doing so can affect an athlete’s amateur status and eligibility to compete in NCAA athletics. This is an archaic rule for an archaic time. In my time at the University of Wisconsin I remember walking down State Street with my roommates arguing about food and viewing three of our jerseys illuminating the Bookstore window for sale.
The good soldiers that we were shook our heads and kept walking and only wondered what it would be like to to have just a percent of what we brought in. Not anymore. Currently there are six active football players that have joined a lawsuit against the NCAA pertaining to the use of college athletes’ names and likeness. Another storm brewing perhaps? Maybe.. When I think of Jonathan Benjamin a walk on basketball player from Richmond who was suspended for starting his own business while in college, yes his OWN business was ruled ineligible due the the rule NCAA bylaw 12.4.4, which governs college athlete self-employment: (Article by Patrick Hruby )
A student-athlete may establish his or her own business, provided the student-athlete’s name, photograph, appearance or athletics reputation are not used to promote the business.
However I am also encouraged Steven Rhodes, a former Marine who served for five years and this year hoped to play college football finally broke through the NCAA red tape after the media storm and was granted the opportunity to play football this season was granted. The conversation can be had, we just have to make them have it!
Hypocrisy lies at the core of the values and rules that the NCAA has let lie complacent and unchanged. The slippery slope will always be slippery but to leave the issue unresolved is an injustice to the student athletes the fans and sports world in general. Pressure still busts pipes but social media pressure destroys them! Keep tweeting my friends you just may become an agent of change.
For more about LaMar click here to visit his Insider Bio page.
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