The NCAA is doing a great job maintaining its reputation as the sleaziest, most hypocritical sports organization in America. Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel is reportedly its latest target because he might have profited from his John Hancock. A South Florida autograph broker allegedly paid Manziel a five-figure fee to sign memorabilia when last year's Heisman Trophy winner was in town to watch the national championship game .
Under NCAA rules, Manziel is not allowed to make a few thousand bucks signing footballs and jerseys. Yet Texas A&M can collect an extra $37 million from the additional media exposure he garnered for the school's football program during his Heisman run last season. Star college players can't sign any endorsement deals, but the NCAA has no problem licensing their likenesses to sell jerseys, footballs, replica helmets, and videogames.
Last week, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas exposed the NCAA's hypocrisy by going into the search engine of ShopNCAASports.com, typing the name of famous college players, and getting page results filled with items connected to the players' schools and jersey numbers. Within two hours, the ShopNCAASports.com search engine was disabled and an embarrassed NCAA president Mark Emmert announced the site would no longer sell team-related merchandise.
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That's why it's great to see six current college football players joining former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon's federal antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA, EA Sports, and Collegiate Licensing Co., alleging that student athletes deserve a share of the billions of dollars of television and retail revenues their hard work creates. College football and basketball players are tired of being screwed over.
The NCAA continues to argue that student athletes don't deserve compensation because they're getting a six-figure quality education, plus room and board, for free. The truth is that college football and basketball players are paying for their own education when fans pack into sold-out stadiums and arenas, corporations are buying skyboxes, and replicas of their jerseys are being bought by thousands of people.
It's time the NCAA emancipate collegiate athletics.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.