I was going to add some posts earlier this week for a South Carolina preview, but real life took an unfortunately strange turn with fire drills at work and the such. However, in regards to THE STORY today, I’ll try to add some logical input to this discussion like Kyle, but honestly my initial knee jerk with no thought put into it impression was this: The NCAA can go eat a huge dick. I think Orson’s headline here sums up it best:
AJ GREEN SUSPENDED FOUR GAMES, SAYS RANDOM PUNISHMENT GENERATOR
I have no disagreements that what AJ did was wrong per the NCAA rulebooks. He sold a game worn jersey to someone that is connected to an agent (may be an actual agent or may be a friend of a friend of an agent, that’s not been made clear in the press release from the NCAA) and he profited from his own name. That would be considered an impermissible benefit per the NCAA rulebook and AJ should have to face the penalties as such. Ironically, there were no explicit rules against the selling of memorabilia until 2003 when several members of the UGA 2002 SEC Championship squad elected to sell their Championship rings to collectors, so if any school’s players should be knowledgeable about the rules regarding the sales of memorabilia, it would have to be UGA.
However, there’s a big part of me that tends to agree with Doc Saturday’s assessment and the inherent hypocrisy between the NCAA and its’ member institutions. The fact that AJ may or not have been connected is not what caused the NCAA to come down with the sledgehammer here, it’s the fact that as Doc Saturday says:
A.J. Green’s only crime was trying to make a buck off A.J. Green
This is obviously me being facetious, but had AJ been able to sell that jersey while sharing the profits with UGA, does one honestly believe the NCAA would care as much? Is there not a certain hint of irony that on UGA’s athletic department’s website store, I count 20 different versions of a UGA #8 jersey for sale? Therein is the problem. UGA can just claim that it’s selling a jersey with the school’s logo on it and those jersey sales have nothing to do with the current guy wearing # 8. They can tell us that there are just as many fans of Terrence Edwards buying those jerseys as fans of AJ Green. As the Doc puts it:
This isn’t selling tickets. In any other avenue of American life, Green would have a stake in that business, because he essentially created it with his popular talent. But that could be any No. 8 who plays for Georgia, right? Or any No. 2 for Ohio State, or any No. 22 for Alabama, right? There are still a lot ofTerrence Edwards fans around, you know. Go team!
That is what just irks me about all this. The NCAA and its member institutions have no problem exploiting these young men for millions of dollars every time they step onto the field on Saturdays on national television while providing numerous hoops to jump through to prevent these players from capitalizing on their own good name and talent. It’s for this reason and this reason alone that nobody should be surprised at the record numbers of draft eligible juniors and RS sophomores that have entered the draft in the past few years. Why should they continue busting their butts for an extra year when they could suffer a career ending injury while they see everybody around them getting rich (including their own coaches) and they can’t have a piece of that pie?
I have no clue how this situation ever gets rectified, but with the sheer dollars flowing through big time college football programs these days with them having what essentially is slave labor, the situation just seems inherently unfair. I don’t blame AJ, or any player for that matter, that likely comes from a less than affluent background and sees a way to pay some bills or buy something nice for himself by selling a jersey or something like that. I don’t know what can be done about this ultimately, but at some point the NCAA and its member institutions are going to have to face the reality that they are sending grossly wrong messages to their players with a rulebook that craps on the guys that actually create the real value in the system.