The latest case involves University of Georgia star running back, Todd Gurley. He is alleged to have accepted money for signing his name to memorabilia. He has been suspended from play indefinitely because profiting from one’s own name or likeness is against NCAA rules.
It is alleged that a sports memorabilia collector was upset that Gurley had allegedly done business with another collector. The accuser supposedly called the Georgia compliance office saying that he paid Gurley $400 to sign 80 items on campus last spring. It is reported the person had video and a photo of Gurley signing the items, but had no such evidence of money exchanging hands.
The rights of collegiate athletes have been in the headlines often during the past few years. So much so that Northwestern University football players cast an historic vote this year allowing them to unionize. Still, NCAA rules say that an athlete may not profit from the selling of his or her autograph or image. So, the universities make millions off of these students who don’t see a penny of the profits.
Now, Georgia lawmakers want to protect players like Gurley. In the wake of Gurley’s suspension, state legislators are looking for ways to punish people, like the collectors, who jeopardize an athlete’s eligibility.
The current law allows for misdemeanor charges in two instances. It was signed into law in 2003 by Governor Sonny Purdue, but has yet to be tested in a court of law.
The law allows colleges to sue anyone who coerces an athlete into breaking NCAA rules. It also allows schools to sue for lost revenue as a result of self-imposed disciplinary actions, including suspensions such as in the Todd Gurley case.
The Georgia law was passed after the NCAA handed down severe sanctions to the University of Alabama in 2000. In that case, Crimson Tide boosters paid a high school coach to get a commitment from a highly ranked high school defensive tackle.
Paying student athletes could become a criminal act if the law is bolstered, as some legislators are considering.
What do you think about student athletes being paid a stipend? Do you think they are already well-compensated by scholarships and other advantages that come with being a university athlete?
What about athletes like Todd Gurley, or Jameis Winston, who allegedly have sold their own autographs – should universities be allowed to profit on the backs of these students?