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.