Former Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor was the latest standout college athlete (or ‘victim’) to take on the evil empire – known as the NCAA – for accepting improper benefits. These “benefits” were not in the traditional sense of accepting money from a booster, or obtained secretly through someone in a program’s coaching staff; but in exchanging memorabilia for cash in order to make money.
Life is not fair, even though it can be rewarding. In the world of college sports, the NCAA has made life a living hell for many its athletes by not allowing them to profit from the sweat off of their own back. Sure, they earn a scholarship to attend college, which can be worth up to $100,000 (okay, laugh). But the millions of dollars college athletes produce for institutions to build facilities and increase personal bank accounts is totally unfair, like life (don’t laugh).
Pryor’s actions, allegedly, of exchanging goods for tattoos and cash, can be somewhat justified as he and countless other college athletes are black-balled by the NCAA for not making any money, while others benefit from their success.
Because of the allegations against him, the 21-year old, 6-6, 233 lbs. quarterback from Jeannette, Pennsylvania decided to skip his senior season at Ohio State in the hopes of furthering his football playing career in the NFL or CFL.
According to the college rules, Pryor broke them and the punishment for missing the first five games of the 2011 football season was in his future if he stayed a Buckeye.
Due the selfishness of the leaches in the NCAA, does the ‘Evil Empire’ deserve some of the blame for Pryor’s actions, along with many others, as they refuse to compromise with their true sources of income: the college athlete?
”In the best interests of my teammates, I’ve made the decision to forgo my senior year of football at The Ohio State University,” Pryor said in a statement issued by Columbus lawyer Larry James.
The “cars deals” scandal is under investigation by the NCAA. For Pryor to have had four or eight vehicles during his tenure at Ohio State and to have allegedly taken items from the equipment room to make money by autographing them speak of Pryor’s character as being selfish, irresponsible and careless.
Compared to other NCAA violations such as taking bribes, cheating on exams and receiving cash benefits to determine what school to play for, which are common no-no’s, Pryor exchanging memorabilia for tattoos seems petty. And for receiving tens of thousands of dollars, allegedly, from a Columbus businessman and freelance photographer, Dennis Talbott; therefore capitalizing on his own name, would be somewhat understandable, but illegal in ‘Evil Empire’s’ eye.
What Pryor did was wrong (don’t laugh) and in violation of NCAA rules. That it led to the resignation of former head coach Jim Tressel eight days before the quarterback relinquished his senior season, is not totally the young man’s fault. College athletes are handcuffed to make profit while watching their sport collect millions of dollars off of their talents. If Pryor had stayed at Ohio State, there is no telling what would have happened between him and his teammates.
”He did not want to be a distraction to his teammates,” James said of Pryor. ”This is something he came to consider after much thought.”
James is handling all of Pryor’s affairs.
”You know how sometimes you have the weight of the world on your shoulders and then something like this takes a little bit off?” James said. ”He’s still only 21.”
Let’s be clear here. The issue between the NCAA and its college athletes is money. To be honest, college athletes don’t go to school for the education, which is secondary. They are allowed to attend the schools to play sports and therefore generate the mighty dollar.
Those who label the relationship between the NCAA and the college athlete as modern day slavery are foolish and immature. First, nothing is more horrible and disgusting than slavery and nothing outside life and death can be compared in that magnitude.
Believe it or not, the NCAA has helped, or better yet saved, countless individuals by offering athletic scholarships to play at institutions, especially many young African-Americans. These athletes struggled through financial difficulties and lived in unsafe environments where the thought of going to college was just a dream. Ultimately, the NCAA has done far more good for the college athlete than bad.
However, to continuously hang the free education excuse over the college athlete’s head, while producing millions of dollars off of their backs for the college sports business (mainly football and basketball) while not laying physical funds in their hands, is wrong.
Instead of calling the treatment of the college athlete by the NCAA modern slavery, it should be labeled an unstable relationship – where neither side trusts each other.
According to a report in HBO’s hit investigative series Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, the NCAA has a waiver for each its athletes to sign that allows the evil empire to own his or her rights – forever. If they refuse to sign, they are not allowed to play. This eliminates any possibility of the athletes to benefit financially from their names and highlights. Many college athletes will accept cash benefits from outside influences because they will not receive any money from the NCAA.
The NCAA has monopolized the college sports industry because they are the only association of its kind. College athletes don’t have the choice to play for other associations, such as a college football league or a college basketball league, in order to receive other benefits, because those associations do not exist.
The NCAA could help reduce actions like Pryor’s, but they refuse to. And the Olympic Committee removes any excuse the NCAA has to not pay its players.
Amateur western Olympians have sponsors, but their earnings are placed into a trust fund. A trust fund would be great for the college athlete because not everyone will end up playing professionally. He or she could benefit mightily after graduation when those first steps into real life are taken.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier stated a solid plan to help pay college athletes, but believes his plan would not pass.
“A bunch of us coaches felt so strongly about it that we would be willing to pay it — 70 guys, 300 bucks a game,” said Spurrier, according to Jacksonville.com. “That’s only $21,000 a game. I doubt it will get passed, but as coaches in the SEC, we make all the money — as do universities, television — and we need to get more to our players.
“We would like to make that happen,” he continued. “Probably won’t, but we’d love to do it.”
This situation is similar to telling a child not to play with the electrical socket, when someone could just place a socket cap on it to eliminate the temptation. The temptation for college athletes to take money will always be around for them to cash in. It would be like putting a socket cap on the situation if the NCAA would allow them to be compensated, lessening the opportunities for players to get burned.
What Pryor did, according to the NCAA rules, was wrong. The actions of the former Ohio State quarterback caused him to leave school early without totally improving his craft, caused a respected head coach to resign and; caused the suspension of several players for the team’s first five games in 2011. This is petty because of a barter system of which the NCAA disapproves.
Handing out athletic scholarships is cute in comparison to the billions of dollars these student athletes rack up for the NCAA and its institutions collectively. In addition, this unstable relationship between the NCAA and the college athlete for players accepting improper benefits is peanuts compared to the breach of human rights by the NCAA for violating the freedom of speech and Title IX.
Until changes are made by the NCAA to truly play fair with the college athlete as opposed to this current unstable relationship, the Pryors of the college sports world will continue to find a way to make money off the sweat of their own backs – and the ‘Evil Empire’ has to admit some of the blame.