Last month’s announcement that the NCAA was starting the process of allowing student-athletes to make money off their image and likeness seemed to finally be a step in the right direction.
An organization that has been run much more like a dictatorship, with president Mark Emmert at the helm, took its first steps toward providing players a means to benefit from the billions of dollars the NCAA makes off them.
Outside of that, visions of new NCAA football video games began swirling in fans’ heads, years after they were discontinued when players started fighting for the right to make money from being included in the games, although their names weren’t in the games.
That excitement was short-lived, however, as last week, the NCAA announced that Ohio State defensive lineman, Heisman Trophy contender and possible No. 1 overall pick, Chase Young was facing a suspension for accepting a loan from a family friend.
This isn’t the first time Ohio State has dealt with the wrath of the NCAA. In 2010, five Buckeyes were penalized and suspended for trading necklaces with golden pants on them, received after beating Michigan, for tattoos. That scandal also led to the firing of longtime coach Jim Tressell.
While I didn’t think the NCAA could be more short-sighted than penalizing players for doing what they wanted with their own property, this Chase Young incident proved otherwise.
Before the Rose Bowl in 2018, Young took out a personal loan from a family friend so that his girlfriend could see him play. Young paid back the loan back in full.
The fact the NCAA is condemning Young for taking on the personal responsibility of a loan that in no way benefitted him personally – as an athlete that is not making any money from playing for the Buckeyes nor his image or likeness, that loan was more of a risk than a benefit anyway – shows that Emmert and the organization does not care about paying players nor the players in general.
As if the suspension Young is facing isn’t enough, the fact that it took the NCAA this long to announce it, nearly a year after the incident and as the Buckeyes are pushing their way toward a national title run, is the most egregious part.
In a similar fashion, just a day after the Chase Young news broke, it was announced that James Wiseman, a player for the Memphis Tigers basketball team, was going to be declared ineligible.
The ruling stemmed from an incident in which current Memphis coach Penny Hardaway funded a move to Memphis for Wiseman and his family. At the time, Hardaway was a high school basketball coach and, after Wiseman moved to Memphis, he began playing for said high school team. Because the NCAA ruled Hardaway a booster of the school following a 2008 donation to establish a Memphis athletic hall of fame, that was considered an improper benefit.
While I will acknowledge that Hardaway admittedly broke a rule in doing so, that incident happened in 2008, 11 years before Wiseman was even a college student.
As long as rulings like this continue to happen, players making money off their image and likeness is going to be the least of players concerns. As long as players can lose their eligibility for having monetized YouTube channels (see former University of Central Florida kicker Donald De La Haye) or for taking more than $3.83 worth of food at a banquet (see the 2014 Oklahoma incident), it’s clear the NCAA does not care at all about their players in any facet.
So calm your excitement and don’t hold your breath for a new college football video game. The NCAA will find a way to change course and deny pennies to the players that are making them billions.
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