I’m not sure about you, but I always assumed that NCAA athletes got to keep their jerseys. After all, what good is a #21 James jersey from the University of Oregon. Yes, I suppose a school could strip the names on the back, but why go to all that trouble? Much as I always saw athletes at my school decked out school branded gear, I assumed giving them their jersey at the end of the year was fair game.
Apparently, that constitutes a NCAA violation. If an athlete wants their jersey as a keepsake or a simple reminder of their athletic peak, they have to fork over cash. Considering that these same athletes (assuming they aren’t getting money from boosters) are hard pressed to maintain a job on top of their athletic duties, it’s asking a bit much.
It would be one thing if it were a mere matter of the players having to reimburse the school for the cost. Despite the twisted nature of the NCAA rule book, I can see the logic in not just handing jersey’s over. A school like Oregon could use it as a recruiting tool since they have a seemingly unlimited number of jersey combinations. Unfortunately, that’s not where the greed ends.
Oregon is actually one of the chief abusers of the situation. They actually auction off game worn jerseys for a profit. These types of auctions can fetch a pretty penny, especially when star players’ gear goes up. Cam Newton’s pants from the BCS title game went for $1,500 of which Cam saw bupkus. Sure, Cam doesn’t need the money after being the first pick, but what about those other players where college football represent the pinnacle of their careers?
Take Mark Asper for example. He’s a fine offensive lineman, but from what I can gather his pro prospects are slim. He would like to buy a jersey, but as he’s quoted saying, “I haven’t made a trip back with enough money in my pocket to buy a jersey.” He’s been priced out auctions for his own stinking jersey. Without him, there’s no value to the jersey, but because he played for the Ducks (and maybe because he saved a man’s life just prior to the Rose Bowl), he can’t afford to keep his jersey.
The process is a farce. I understand that these athletes are gifted with a free education, but they are still the ones providing value to the memorabilia. Without Cam Newton, Auburn doesn’t get anywhere near 15 grand for a pair of pants. I think a fair resolution would be to split the proceeds 3 ways after reimbursing the university for the original cost of the uni (and I mean the true cost. If the uniforms were bought in bulk at a discount, then they get reimbursed that price). The first share should go to the school’s athletic department. The second share to the university, solely for educational or scholastic purposes. The final share should go into a trust to be given to the player once he graduates/leaves school. Hell, if the NCAA really wants to make it worth their while, they can split that final share in half; one half is given to the player once he leaves school, no matter what. That second half is only given to the player if he graduates, otherwise, it goes as a donation in that player’s name, (hello tax discount!) to the school’s general scholarship fund.
If school’s are going to profit directly off the name of their players, the least they can do is compensate them a little for their trouble.