Ten years ago, a young Leonard Fournette, the current star of the LSU Tigers football team, was only 10 years old and being the next great running back wasn’t on his radar. For a week in 2005, Fournette’s family had to live on a bridge because of the flooding caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Fast forward to 2015 where Fournette is the one of the best players in college football, electrifying the nation on Saturdays. So after the biblical flooding in South Carolina earlier this October, the Heisman hopeful made a great gesture: after his Tigers beat up the South Carolina Gamecocks 45-24, he said in a postgame interview, “I would like to auction off my game jersey to the highest bidder to help out the relief efforts.”
Small problem for Fournette—the NCAA is a cartel. It doesn’t sell drugs or weapons, rather young developing athletes trying to hone their craft to make it professionally. So NCAA rules initially forbade Fournette from auctioning off his jersey for charity because it is the state of Louisiana’s property, not his.
The NCAA has little to no consistency in any of its edicts. They decide when things are or aren’t okay, with little to no substance behind the decision.
As a whole, the NCAA is a very shady organization. It states that its job is to protect student athletes, yet has very arbitrary rules that would put Roger Goodell and the NFL to shame. Last year, three student athletes on the University of Oklahoma football team had to self-report a violation. The athletes had what the NCAA deemed “food in excess of NCAA regulation at a graduation banquet.” They were each required to donate $3.83 to charity because they got seconds of pasta.
By suppressing the ability of its athletes to earn money off their names, the NCAA creates a black market of merchandise. This has caused current NFL players like Johnny Manziel and Todd Gurley to be suspended during their college years. The NCAA pulled in almost $1 billion in revenue in 2014, but the athletes don’t get a dime.
Ultimately, the NCAA ruled that Fournette would be allowed to auction of his jersey to benefit flood victims, but the association doesn’t deserve a pat on its back. It needs to be taken out behind the woodshed. The NCAA cannot and does not effectively govern major athletics programs. They deprive athletes of the ability to earn any profit off their names, which in this case could have indirectly prevented flood relief.
The NCAA argues that by imposing rules upon athletic programs, it keeps the playing field balanced. But what the NCAA fails to recognize is that it only keeps the playing field balanced for about 15 or 20 programs in its revenue-drawing sports. The NCAA strives for fairness among its intercollegiate athletics, but fails to achieve it at a level that it claims it does.
Featured image credit: Brandonrush