If you have read this column for the past few years you know that I advocate for college athletes in major sports to be compensated beyond their current scholarship. The majority of you disagree with me and feel that playing football or basketball for a free education is a good and fair deal.
For argument’s sake, let’s say I come around to the majority view (which I won’t). Now we walk into the college bookstore or go on to the athletic department’s website and find that a specific player’s jersey is being sold for $50 (which would be cheap).
That’s not part of the deal.
Yet many of you also argue that the jersey is school property. You contend that from 2006-09 all those Florida jerseys with the No. 15 on them — even though we all know they were Tim Tebow jerseys — are Florida Gators jerseys. Therefore, Tebow had no right to any of that money even though not many Florida “15” jerseys were sold in the 40 years before he wore that number.
I think this is laughable at best and hypocritical at worst, but for argument’s sake I’ll go along with it.
Now justify what is taking place at Clemson (and virtually everywhere else).
Sammy Watkins, the pride of South Fort Myers High School, is taking the campus (and the college football world) by storm. He wears No. 2. Sammy plays and Clemson provides him with free schooling. If the university want to sell his number on a Clemson jersey then that money is theirs to keep, right?
But shouldn’t Watkins get a piece of the action if a company starts selling T-shirts, posters and prints of Sammy Watkins off-campus? That seems fair, right?
It’s one thing for Clemson to profit off of the 18-year-old but at least they are providing him with an education and an opportunity to play. What is the local business doing for Sammy?
Go to www.tigertowngraphics.com. You will see T-shirts that on the front say “The Deuce” and on the back say “is Loose.” They sell for $14.95. Color prints of Sammy (and others) in action sell for $49.95.
This is not the marketing of Clemson through Sammy Watkins. This is the marketing of Sammy Watkins under the guise of Clemson. Is it unreasonable to suggest that if the player is not entitled to any of the revenue generated from on-campus merchandise sales, shouldn’t he at least be entitled to a percentage of off-campus merchandise sales?
Watkins’ skill is the reason that those T-shirts and prints have value. Period.
The shirts and prints do not say “Clemson” on them. They are using Sammy Watkins’ number, his photo and his talent to profit. And I’m fine with that so long as he can get a piece of the pie.
What about 10 percent. That’s a modest amount. It’s $1.50 per T-shirt and $5 per color print. Every week or month the store cuts Sammy a check based on sales. Simple as that.
No money coming from the Clemson athletic department. No $100 handshakes from boosters. A legitimate business arrangement.
Conservatively, thousands of those “The Deuce is Loose” T-shirts are going to be sold over the next three or four year. Nevermind any other off-campus merchandise that will be sold specifically because of Sammy Watkins. Maybe they sell 10,000 T-shirts. That’s a smooth $15,000. Could be a lot more than that.
For Sammy and many others just like him.
Does it seem fair that Sammy Watkins is entitled to none of the money being made off of him?
Not to me.