The University of Georgia has suspended their star running back, Todd Gurley, because he allegedly was paid $400.00 for signing autographs on eighty memorabilia items. This works out to a mere five dollars an item for a young man who brings in millions of dollars of revenue to his school without receiving a dime in return.
Now before you go off and tell me Gurley receives a free college education, you should know the University of Georgia cares only about two things when it comes to their best player; what does he do on the playing field and what does he get into while off of the playing field. The classroom does not come into play.
While Gurley sits out an indefinite suspension, the University of Georgia will be sure to continue selling jerseys with his number three to fans at a far more profitable rate than Gurley was paid for his autograph. The school and the NCAA will use these profits to add to their coffers without thought of the hypocrisy of what they are doing.
Why is it a young athlete in college on athletic scholarship is not allowed to make money to supplement the living expenses he receives from his scholarship? Gurley, and the thousands of other athletes across the country on scholarship, do not live a lavish lifestyle and often end up leaving college with head, neck, knee, ankle, hip, or back injuries that will cost them a shot of landing a professional contract. These injuries also will often end up limiting what they are able to do for the rest of their lives which includes earning a decent income.
Meanwhile, anyone not on an athletic scholarship is allowed to earn money while attending an NCAA school. Those on academic scholarship can get jobs just as anyone who is not skilled enough to play a sport at an elite level. If a talented art student is allowed to earn money selling their work while in school, an athlete should be afforded the same opportunity. Why prevent student athletes from earning a few bucks here and there?
Allowing college athletes to earn money will actually make the job of coaches, compliance departments, and the NCAA much easier. Who is it harming if a booster wants to reward a player for a great game played? Who cares if an athlete is paid to appear in a local television commercial? Does it affect the outcome of a game if a player is paid to sign a few balls and jerseys to be sold at an auction?
Todd Gurley will come out of this just fine. The NFL will not care that he was suspended a few games. In fact, given that he plays running back, they will be happy to know he will have a little less wear and tear on his body. Suspending Gurley only hurts his team because he is such an important component of their offense.
The NCAA needs to cease their practice of hypocrisy. They are swimming in money and are not hurt when a few star athletes are smart enough to cash in on their talent. As long as they have not signed with an agent or are involved in the gambling aspect of the game, let these athletes profit. It may actually result in fewer athletes looking to leave school early before they are ready to play at the professional level.
Todd Gurley only did what any young person would have done in order to have a little more spending money. His only mistake was charging too little for his name. However, that will all change next spring because the next time he signs his name it will be on a professional contract. Not even the NCAA is powerful enough to keep that from happening.
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.