The General Assembly Blocks for Todd Gurley

Never accuse the General Assembly of ignoring the issues that matter to Georgians. Representative Barry Fleming (R-Harlem), my former boss and a Damn Good Dawg, has proposed legislation that would create civil and potentially criminal penalties for those who entice student-athletes to violate their scholarships.

Background: Todd Gurley is UGA’s star running back, a Heisman trophy candidate, and the most loved man in Athens. He was suspended from last Saturday’s Missouri game when news broke that he allegedly sold signed merchandise for $400 or more, a violation of NCAA rules. The story was leaked by merchandise dealer Bryan Allen (a “rat”, according to the descriptions Representative Fleming has heard) after shopping around for a sports journalism outlet willing to print such unmentionables. Immediately after the news broke, a thunderstorm set on Athens as the personal became meteorological.

To give a taste of the mood among Bulldog fans, here’s a painting I found on the streets of downtown Athens.

21st Century Slavery

It now hangs in my living room.

In 2003, the General Assembly passed a law allowing universities to seek damages from individuals who “engages in any activity concerning student-athletes that results in the institution being penalized…” inspired by a similar incident at the University of Alabama. It’s not yet clear if that law could be used against Mr. Allen or how Representative Fleming’s law would strengthen it. It is clear that some folks are mighty mad at Bryan Allen.

Feel free to call the issue silly or grandstanding, if you must, but remember that we’re talking about a multi-billion dollar industry with more than a few customers in this state. More egregious than Bryan Allen’s actions are the antiquated NCAA rules, which profits from a majority black work force that is unpaid for their remarkable (and remarkably dangerous) labor. The federal courts have already ruled that college football players can be paid for their likeness and some are calling for UGA to make the Gurley suspension a landmark case.  That would be the highest tribute to a spectacular player.

26 comments

  1. NoTeabagging says:

    The letter to McGarrity (see above link) has a damning paragraph about the hypocrisy of other appalling things athletes do that don’t ruffle the NCAA or loyal fans.

    • NoTeabagging says:

      Which rules? The ones that keep them student athletes accountable to academic standards? or the ones that prevent them from owning & merchandising their personal Brand ™?

  2. saltycracker says:

    The restrictions put on our student athletes like sanctions for $400 for signatures lack a sense of balance in a situation of financially strapped kids, that are stretched academically and put in an extreme athletic spotlight.

    While the NCAA needs to get a grip on reality, hyperbolic comparisons to slavery and crying exploitation of poor black kids begs a push back.

    This picture suggests the lawmakers will be unable to discern a rat enticing the players from the actions of big alumni groups with the. deep pockets that lawyers love.

    College athletics cannot squander the positives and opportunities their programs bring to so many to become productive, self-reliant citizens. We’d better draw the lines in the right place.

    • blakeage80 says:

      Yeah, that is the second most infuriating thing I’ve read about in the past two weeks. Where’s Bryan Allen when you need him? Maybe he could work his magic at Free Seafood U.

    • ChuckEaton says:

      Under the NCAA rules, it looks like UGA made the better move. FSU, and specifically Jimbo Fisher’s declaration that Winston committed no crime, has made it an institutional issue. If it’s proven later that Winston accepted money, there should be much harsher penalties.

  3. Noway says:

    Am I correct is saying that Olympic (amateur) athletes can do endorsements, that kind of thing? Make money even though amateurs? If so, the NCAA neeeds to let any college athlete make money as well. Pretty simple.

      • drjay says:

        i think you are trying to make a joke so i won’t go overboard here, but they have to maintain academic standing to be eligible, that wouldn’t and shouldn’t change because they get to do a tv commercial or sign autographs at the local nissan dealership…

  4. MattMD says:

    If you think playing football for Georgia is akin to slavery then your education has failed you miserably.

    I’d suggest petitioning for a refund.

    • Chet Martin says:

      It’s not slavery. The comparison draws attention, though, and makes you question the wisdom of refusing to allow athletes to profit from their athleticism.

      Plus it matched the room’s color scheme.

      • saltycracker says:

        Ridiculous. Student athletes are not independent agents and the poster is stupid. But we should forgive your fight for the proletariat and keep you in the village. Once reeducated.

        • Chet Martin says:

          As a capitalist in good standing, I’m in favor of adults being paid the price the market sets for the value they created, full stop

          • saltycracker says:

            As a capitalist I’m in favor of setting the mission/model/plan/working conditions/pay scales and understand you are free to move on.

    • Dash Riptide says:

      Be careful. If Gurley should be free to market himself (and he should), then criminalizing behavior by third parties that makes it possible for Gurley to profit from his likeness is patriarchal, promotes the NCAA position, and otherwise hurts Gurley’s ability to profit in the way that his NCAA overlords are “non-profiting.” Think this through, people.

      • Chet Martin says:

        Should the happy day come when the NCAA allows players to profit from their likeness, it won’t be possible for merchandise dealers to entice athletes from breaking their scholarship. They’d be offering them a perfectly legitimate business opportunity and the law won’t apply.

        Unrelated: I desperately want to believe your handle is a Liar’s Poker reference

        • Dash Riptide says:

          I’ve got no problem with UGA suing Allen for any damages the university suffers because of Allen’s interference with Gurley’s scholarship. After all, that is a great incentive for the Bryan Allens of the world to be discreet.

          But at the same time, the fact is Gurley can only work for one employer who profits immensely from Gurley’s services while paying Gurley only a small fraction of what he is worth to the school, the SEC, and the NCAA. And if Gurley is not interested in earning a degree, then the payment for his services is akin to paying him in tampons. It’s lost on him. It’s all a bother required of him to maintain academic eligibility until he’s old enough to be drafted.

    • greencracker says:

      If legalizing weed would win Georgia a national title, they would call a special session tomorrow to do it.

      Replace “weed” with “crack” and you still have a deal.

  5. jpm says:

    Great idea. State law allows prosecution of not only the hooker,but also the john -even when the hooker knows it is against the law. I believe the lawyer in Fleming did not overlook the parallel.

    People may wish the rules changed – and maybe the rule should be changed. But the player knew he was endangering his elligibility when he chose to ignore the NCAA rule and yet he made his decision to put his scholarship on the line.

  6. greencracker says:

    Does football make money for schools? I’m not talking about making money for the alumni association, the athletic department, the stadium, I’m talking about libraries, labs, etc.

    Nearly 20 years ago at Tech, I only ever had a handful of classes with footballers, and they all were nice enough guys, friendly, and at least one of them was extremely diligent. But they’re also definitely a status above the average student: best dorms, first pick of classes and no lack of emoluments, adulation, etc. Even nerdy Tech profs, some of them would be all fawning when a player walked into class. ( I would imagine they had job offers before they graduated too; I could definitely see some business wanting to have them onboard in some public function. But that was my imagination; no telling if it’s true.)

    No doubt, they were celebrities. Also no doubt that they were embellishing the school’s reputation more than the school was embellishing theirs. It was definitely an unbalanced deal.

    Pay them what they’re worth, by all means. Whichever department or org profits from football, let them pay.

    But I think that would make them not just celebrities, but rich celebrities. This does not seem like the best thing to encourage on a college campus. I don’t know the solution for that.

  7. Patrick Mayer says:

    “More egregious than Bryan Allen’s actions are the antiquated NCAA rules, which profits from a majority black work force that is unpaid for their remarkable (and remarkably dangerous) labor.”

    I’m sorry, how much is he paying to study at Georgia’s flagship university?

    How much will he make off his signing bonus for getting national attention having been able to play in a top tier CFB school?

    Go cry me a river. There are established rules about what they can do. He broke them. If they are antiquated they need to be changed, but until then, they are the rules.

    If we keep telling these players it is okay to break rules and there are no sanctions then we might end up with worse problems like steroid use, domestic violence, and murder in the NFL… oh, wait.

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