David Moulton: Finding ways to financially compensate college athletes

David Moulton

David Moulton

Should college athletes be compensated beyond their current scholarship?

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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.

David Moulton is a freelance writer and co-host of “Miller and Moulton in the Afternoon,” which airs weekdays 2 to 7 p.m. on WWCN/AM 770 ESPN. His column runs Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

© 2011 Naples Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 7

Davidh239 writes:

David, I respect your opinion but I still disagree.

I could agree, however, if Sammy would compensate Clemson 10% for his first 4 years of employment to compensate for his free education or at least reimburse the college for his tuition.

naples08 writes:

in response to Davidh239:

David, I respect your opinion but I still disagree.

I could agree, however, if Sammy would compensate Clemson 10% for his first 4 years of employment to compensate for his free education or at least reimburse the college for his tuition.

Now here's the thing, I see where you're coming from with that, but Clemson is going to be making HUGE amounts of money off of Sammy's contribution. Forget the jersey and apparel sales Clemson will have just off of his number, but the fact that they will make millions of dollars for playing in a big time bowl game that Sammy will most likely have a huge hand in. And he is only a freshman. Over the next 3 or 4 years it could be very likely he will have made Clemson money going well into 6 figures.

ex31539er writes:

Let's let colleges increase scholarships to cover the "true" cost of attendance, including travel back and forth from home, clothing, and incidentals. While that would not eliminate cheating, it would at least take much of the financial pressure off those student athletes who want to stay clean.

The problem with even that small step is half the FBS football programs cannot afford that. Especially when federal law requiring more or less equal treatment for women's sports is taken into account.

The fact is there are probably 60 or so FBS schools that should really be FCS schools, but they will veto any liberalization of scholarship rules permitting the more financially successful programs to set scholarships at the "true" cost of attendance.

Anyone interested in the "value" of college football programs can follow this link http://www.ibj.com/the-score/2011/10/... to a report from the Indianapolis Business Journal on an Indiana University finance professor's estimates of the market value of public university football programs. Only public schools are considered.

I would suggest any school below, say, about number 61, probably should not be in the football business at the highest level. After about number 61, taxpayers and students pay a disproportionate share of the cost of the football program.

Stagemusic writes:

David, you hit it right on the money (pun intended). I actually fall in the compensation of college athletes camp but I have no problem with keeping the status quo because I don't think it can be fairly addressed across the board. In other words a gymnast, tennis player, wrestler, or any other athlete would have to make the same stipend.

However, this type of marketing is definitely riding on the back of a specific athlete and he/she deserves to reap some kind of benefit. The NCAA could even add a rule dictating a certain percentage thereby removing the need for professionalism and agent/management. It all seems pretty simple to me.

Stagemusic writes:

I'm even going to add a little something that occurred to me as well. I can understand the NCAA not wanting star players paid any differently than other team players during school. So, put that money into an escrow account that is released to the player at the end of each season or even whenever they graduate or leave school. It might prove to be a little nest egg for them in case of accident or injury that ends their athletic career.

user4950 writes:

Before you present a proposal it's best to think it through and this one has a big hole with big potential for abuse. A booster(like Shapiro) wants to give money to a player, all he has to do is buy shirts. Put this proposal in effect and all of a sudden boosters will decide to buy boatloads of shirts. The schools with the richest boosters will do very well. Come to our school son and we'll guarantee you $100,000 a year from shirt sales. Back to the drawing board Dave.

twjtiger writes:

Sounds like a case of sour grapes to me.... possibly a Florida fan, with an axe to grind, who digs through Clemson merchandise to try to find some way that Sammy Watkins got exploited because he left home. Like alot of people though, you look at athletes and believe it is their God given right to play sports and profit from it, failing to realize that it isnt a right, it is a privilege to have your college tuition, room and board paid for. He will make plenty of money playing football one day, however that day is not and should not be while he is in college. I love to see the hypocrisy involved when a blogger/freelance journalist/radio host drives people to a website with the key word "Sammy Watkins" in a post just to get people to read how they believe he should be getting paid for merchandise that is sold, yet never once do you talk about wanting to put 10% of your paycheck into a fund for a player that you are making your money off of. How about donate 10% of your salary to said athlete, I mean reality is, without an athlete to talk about you wouldnt have a job to begin with, so philosophically isnt that the same thing really?

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