Todd Gurley and the NCAA

The Todd Gurley story has dominated the college football landscape over the past week. My facebook and twitter feeds have been full of complaints regarding the NCAA and the rules that prohibit athletes from profiting off of their autographs. Even today on SiriusXM channel 91 a host was bashing the “silly” rules.

One of the more critical articles came from Boston Globe writer Christopher L. Gasper. You can view the article here: click. Gasper is a former Patriot and NFL writer.

In short, Gasper slams the NCAA for prohibiting athletes to profit off of their signatures, likeness, etc. Gasper makes the ridiculous claim that, because of the NCAA rule book, that a player is better off being accused of rape.

Gasper fails to realize that the NCAA has not suspended Gurley. UGA has issued the suspension. Conversely, FSU has not suspended Jameis Winston.

Gasper then goes on to make the tired argument that while UGA is selling Gurley jerseys for $100 each, they aren’t selling “lab coats worn by promising chemistry students”. This is where Gasper’s argument begins to fall apart.

Gurley’s autograph is worth as much as it is because he plays at one of the most high profile college football programs in the country. UGA’s television and media contracts help make Gurley’s name more prominent. Gasper is right when he says Gurley’s autograph would be worth the same at Tennessee, Miami, or USC. All of those schools have similar exposure to UGA. That exposure is, in part, because of the investments made, over decades, by the institutions and their conferences.

Gurley could have gone to Division III school to play football and had little to no exposure. His autograph would have been worth virtual nothing. His autograph is only worth what it is because he plays at a premier football school.

Similar to how Gurley cannot profit from his autograph, lab students who invent a profitable product or medication while using a university’s time and equipment generally do not own the rights to their invention.

Gasper’s convenient “free markets and supply and demand” is no less availing in his own world. I imagine Gasper’s own employment contract does not allow him to write freelance pieces for the USA Today or New York Times. Further, I have not seen Gasper write about the inequity of the NFL’s salary cap which limits what some players otherwise might receive in the “free market”.

Gurley is going to make millions of dollars in a few short months. UGA has provided him the stage, training, and coaching that have allowed him to showcase his abilities and put him in his current position.



Insurance Policies for “Amateur” Athletes

Last month many news outlets released stories regarding universities purchasing insurance policies for their star athletes. These insurance policies protect players in the event they suffer an injury causing them to be unable to play the sport or in certain cases if they slide in the draft due to injury.

This story blew up when the press revealed that Texas A&M paid more than $50,000 for an insurance policy to protect their star offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. Ogbuehi would have been a first round selection in the 2014 draft but chose to stay in school, presumably, at least in part, because of Texas A&M’s agreement to pay for the insurance policy.

Texas A&M was able to do this using money from the NCAA’s Student Assistance Fund (it also is now being reported that Florida State using this fund to insure Jameis Winston).

I found this on the NCAA’s website explaining the guidelines for the fund. The guidelines, from last year, indicate that over 73 million dollars will be sent to Division I conference offices. The money is “intended to provide direct benefits to student-athletes or their families as determined by conference offices.” It makes you wonder why this money can’t be used to feed hungry student-athletes?

The NCAA, not known for making consistent decisions, is apparently fine with allowing schools to use this money to basically pay a player to stay in school for another year, but frowns upon players for eating too much pasta at a banquet.

The NCAA has been walking a fine line between amateur and professional athletics for decades. Personally, I am strongly opposed paying college athletes and believe that the stipend will be the end of college athletics as we know it. Once the genie is out of the bottle it will never return. The few thousand dollars people propose to pay athletes now will never be enough and the demands for more money will never go away.



Grunting in Tennis

Last month researches from the University of Nebraska released a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research  showing that tennis players who grunt have a higher ball velocity than those who don’t.

I would never have guessed that grunting actually helps. Even though this study shows that there may be benefits to grunting, it doesn’t mean that the grunting is any less tiresome to hear.


The SEC Network and your cable bill

I was happy to hear that my cable provider had recently reached a deal with the SEC Network. I would have been very upset had I not been able to watch all of the SEC Network’s offerings this fall. This article from shows that the SEC Network will be the fifth most lucrative sports channel in the country. Providers in the SEC footprint will pay $1.40 per month per subscriber for the network. This is an astonishing amount of money considering the NFL Network “only” demands $1.22 a month per subscriber. However, what really caught my attention in this article is that cable providers  pay ESPN $6.04 per subscriber per month (not including what they pay for ESPN2, EPSNU, etc.). I was shocked at that figure. I found this article from 2012 showing the top 20 most expensive cable channels. Unsurprisingly ESPN was on the top of the list in 2012. This leads to the question of how much money will cable providers try to get out of their customers for the SEC Network? With all the cable alternatives available (i.e. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Vudu) will there be a tipping point for cable providers? I have seen many of my friends “cut the cord” and have to believe the number will only increase. However, for those of us who live for watching sports on television, there seems to be no viable option to avoid paying whatever the cable providers demand.