Recruiting pitch: You get a dollar-for-dollar credit towards future education for every dollar we make directly from you

The good Senator has a very interesting idea, bouncing off of a statement by Desmond Howard:

“But if you want to play the education game, then check this out. If they get my likeness for life, then they should be committed to my education for life. So if Mark Ingram 20 years from now, when they’re still selling his jerseys in Tuscaloosa, says ‘You know what? I want to get my Ph.D.’ Guess who should pay for that? They should be committed to his education for life. They’re still selling his jerseys.”

I could not agree more.  Well, actually, I could:  if the school is still selling those jerseys when the player’s kids are college-aged, they should get a free ride, too.  It’s the least a system that professes to promote both amateurism and academics should do.

This is a great idea. People who say we shouldn’t pay players (and many of whom say we should) often point out to students that they do get something of value: an education. So imagine this recruiting pitch:

“Come to this University and play football and you will receive a free education and room and board at a premiere university. In addition, if the University and the athletic department make any money by selling products with your name or likeness, like jerseys, athletic posters, and so on, you will receive credit that can be used at any point in the future to pay for additional education at this University received by you, your spouse, or your direct children.

“For example, if we make $5 of profit for selling a jersey with your name on it and we sell 5,000 of those jerseys and we make $2 of profit on a poster that shows you and another player (so you get credit for $1) and we sell 10,000 of those posters, you will have $35,000 in credits towards future education. So if in five years you’re in the NFL and your wife would like to get a Master’s Degree from our School of Science, you can apply that $35,000 credit against tuition. Or if you retire and would like to get an MBA from our Business School, you can apply that credit. The entire University is willing to make a lifetime commitment to you and the education of you and your family.”

I think that’d be a great idea, though with some obvious complications like how to allocate money for likeness rights sold to video game developers and fears of shoddy accounting for sales of jerseys, especially for schools where they have numbers but not names on the back and don’t immediate retire numbers. (The other concern is if you extend it to children how you deal with the Shawn Kemp/Antonio Cromartie issues. But those are details and, from the University perspective let’s be honest: The vast majority of these credits will go unused, but there will be some who use them and it will benefit everyone involved. It’s not like the University will be allocating ticket sales and TV money — the vast majority of the revenues — to individual player credits under this system.

  • Guest

    I love this concept, however, when it comes to jerseys are most not sold name-less? Any the numbers our re-handed out every 5 or so years. So it would be hard to say that a certain number would be directly tied to a specific player. Obviously there is a small number of guys who will forever be connected with a certain number. (Doug Flutie)

  • This would be an interesting thing to extend to within conferences as well.  I.e. the Big Ten extend it such that the credit would be good at any member school (subject to any standard admissions processes, of course).

    In the interconnected mobile world we’re in, someone who graduates from Purdue and then moves to Chicago might want to do their MBA at, say, Northwestern.  Giving them that option would probably benefit conference recruiting as a whole.

    Granted, the member institutions may not want to do this, but I’m sure if the $22M BTN revenue is partially conditional on it, they could make it happen.

  • tigerman

    alot of universities already have programs where if an athlete wants to return to school to get their degree (at least their bachelors not sure about advanced degrees) then they can do it tuition free (not sure about books and tutoring, etc). im an auburn fan and they have  program like that which several athletes haved used to come back to school and get their degree. although i do not know what all they provide besides free tuition.  

  • Guest

    My only problem with your argument is that it allows teams in the same conference to feed off the Northwesterns and Vandys of the world. It makes the pitch just as strong for every team in the conference; “Go to Arizona State and get your Ph.D from Stanford!” sounds like a bit of a loophole to me.

    Of course, as you mentioned, everyone’s subject to the same admissions process. But if you’re a blue-chipper with a 2400 on the SAT, doesn’t it make a lot of sense to play football as an undergrad at Alabama and then go to Vandy for your MBA? In some ways, it’s an academic recruiting pitch that negates the academic strengths of college football’s small private schools.

  • Buckeye

    Why not simply share revenue generated from licensing and sales? The money can be held until after loss of eligibility and given out with interest (say, equivalent to a savings account/bond or similar low risk investment)

  • Duece

    So where does this end then?  Are we to see high school athletes getting paid because their school made so much money at the gate?  It’s amateur football, they play for the love of the game, that’s why there is so much passion in college football.  Look at the attitude differences from Sat. to Sun.  The way I look at it, if you wanna get paid, play on Sunday…

  • Patrick M.

    The nice thing about this is that you only get to accrue these incentives if you’re a star, i.e. you were good enough of a performer for people to want to wear your jersey.

  • It begins when you become an adult. 18 year olds have rights that 17 year olds don’t. Furthermore, there is no legitimate venue for athletes 18-21yrs (roughly) to play for pay because of the rules of the NFL.
    Oh, and are journalism majors only supposed to write for the “love of the words?” That’s a silly argument. As is amateurism as a whole.

  • This Guy

    Hopefully, by “paying” the players, we’ve bypassed that particular hurdle.