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Emmert, NCAA deserve to be put on probation

Published 9:26am Friday, August 16, 2013

I have been complaining for more than five years about the double-standard surrounding the governing body of collegiate amateur athletics.
Now, when they finally get their hands caught in the cookie jar, the NCAA did the correct thing – and fast.
I guess if you chase it far enough down a dead-end alley, even the Gestapo can be had.
For as long as I can remember, the NCAA had its brand on all collegiate merchandise being sold.
If you picked up a jersey, cap or stuffed mascot, it would have a tag with “Licensed NCAA merchandise” attached somewhere.
Even a bumper sticker would have it printed on the back.
Last week, NCAA President Mark Emmert took swift action after a Twitter-broken news story came out saying that the NCAA was selling, among other things, website merchandise of players currently under investigation.
In a reversal move that would make someone on Dancing with the Stars  proud, Emmert said the NCAA would “exit” the business of using ShopNCAASports.com to hawk player memorabilia.
“I don’t think we should have been in that business,” Emmert said.
Well, I am shocked at Emmert being so candid and contrite.
It also reminded me of a scene from the movie Casablanca.
The scene shows Captain Renault being totally shocked that there was gambling going on – in a gambling establishment.
It didn’t last long, as Emmert followed up with a claim that the NCAA was not profiting from the sales but only serving as a host aggregate for individual schools that presumably can continue the practice.
Let’s see, it was OK selling trinkets under the NCAA umbrella, but Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is under investigation for exchanging his autograph for cash.
The last count was that Johnny signed over 4,400 pieces for three different brokers in multiple states.
Uncovering the NCAA sales practice was like trying to crack the Da Vinci Code.
Manziel’s No. 2 jersey is popping up on the Internet, with the NCAA licensing tag.
The NCAA has long claimed that jerseys are generic and don’t represent a particular player, but don’t miss Stanford retiring John Elway’s No. 7 jersey this fall during the Oregon game.
Pay close attention to the licensing case involving Ed O’Bannon and the NCAA licensing players’ images, among other things.
The NCAA has also sold merchandise for Reggie Bush and Penn State. Charges against Bush landed USC on probation and included an edict that the school dissociate from the athlete.
It was Emmert himself who stiff-armed due process to hand down an extraordinarily punitive punishment against Penn State in the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
“Shop-gate” is just the latest mess the NCAA public relations department must deal with.
Emmert has promised to expedite changes within the NCAA.
Hey, you can’t just expect the NCAA to get sober overnight – or can you?
Don’t you have to slither before you crawl?
When you must shame someone into doing the correct thing, what you have is a situation that will only get worse before it gets better.
If Manziel is found to be in violation of the NCAA and he receives a suspension  – or, for that matter, anything that removes him from the playing field – watch for Johnny and his very wealthy family to file a lawsuit against the beloved NCAA.
In my opinion, if the NCAA can profit off of these athletes, that athletes should be clear to profit on their success, and if that means getting paid for signing an autograph, so be it.
Until next time …
Meyers is a sports columnist for The Outlook. You can follow him on Twitter at @brucemeyers11.

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