Manziel saga shows lunacy of NCAA rules

It’s OK for public institutions to profit from elite athletes, but it’s not OK for the athletes to be compensated proportionately.

If nothing else, Texas A&M Quarterback Johnny Manziel can be credited for inadvertently bringing this injustice to a public spotlight.

Manziel was the subject of a National Collegiate Athletic Association investigation into whether he has been paid for signing autographs, which would violate NCAA eligibility rules.

Manziel has denied the allegations and the NCAA has cleared him for now. But the NCAA has yet to explain why, exactly, it is wrong for a celebrity player to profit from his or her celebrity, yet it is OK for a university to benefit from celebrity athletes by using them to sell tickets or sports jerseys.

Most people realize college football pays the bills for multiple sports teams, from A&M to Alabama to Eastern New Mexico University.

College athletes whose athletic efforts create revenues for their schools should also be allowed to profit personally from signing autographs or promoting automobiles or blue jeans.

Some might argue it is unfair that athletes like Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner as a freshman last season, have the potential to make thousands of dollars from their celebrity on campus while a backup offensive lineman at ENMU won’t make a nickel. To which the reply should be, “So what?”

Life is not always fair; neither in college nor pro football, and not anywhere else.

Yes, the NCAA has an obligation to ensure the integrity of its amateur athletic programs. Yet that should not mean that only public institutions may profit from the entertainment provided by the amateur athletes. Yes, they are compensated with rooms, meals and education. But explain why only the institution can cash in on the individuals’ fame, even after a player’s college eligibility is complete.

The lunacy of outdated NCAA policies was showcased closer to home just last week. Longtime West Texas A&M University football coach Don Carthel was fired for “knowingly furnishing or knowingly influencing others to provide false or misleading information in the course of an NCAA investigation,” WT officials said.

Carthel, also a former ENMU coach, admits he provided misleading information about when players reimbursed him for $60 he spent for them to attend a Texas Rangers baseball game.

“He was jaywalking and they gave him the death penalty,” one area coach was overheard to say.

While Carthel’s firing was a university decision, it reflects the NCAA’s rigid, outdated mindset that created rules that have unfairly treated the players and coaches who generate millions of dollars for higher education across the country.

It is time to review the rulebook to reflect the realities of today’s college sports environment.

 Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc. editorial board, which includes Publisher Ray Sullivan and Editor David Stevens.

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