A.J. Green essentially signed away the "right" to sell his jersey on Form 10-3a.
It is an NCAA document called a "Student-Athlete Statement" that every athlete must agree to before getting that scholarship. It includes boilerplate stuff like results of drug tests and grade info. But to get his or her scholarship, an athlete must agree to a clause on Page 3.
|By signing the Student-Athlete Statement, A.J. Green knew selling his jersey was against the rules. (US Presswire)|
Athletes are required to sign the form every year which, at this point, should tell you all you need to know about Georgia's best receiver. He had to have signed the form at some point knowing he had taken $1,000 for his jersey to a person the NCAA considered an agent. Green's situation was a national story during the first month of the season. It is a situation that may impact Georgia for years to come. While Green missed four games due to an NCAA suspension, Georgia got off to a 1-3 start perhaps putting coach Mark Richt's job in jeopardy.
Green returns this week against Colorado closing the case on another scholarship athlete abusing that scholarship by having his hand out. If you want sympathy for Green, do not go to Mark Emmert. The Washington president is a month away from becoming the next NCAA president, taking over for interim president Jim Isch and the deceased Myles Brand on Nov. 1.
With the issues of agents and extra benefits swirling lately, Emmert is firm on the counter argument that athletes somehow "deserve" the swag because so much is made off their names by universities.
"They're not employees," Emmert told CBSSports.com recently in an exclusive question-and-answer session. "They came to the universities to get an education and participate in their sport. They are not in a position where they should be paid as employees or where they should be benefitting beyond what they get which is an extraordinary set of benefits.
"I don't know how you went to school, but getting a full-time [scholarship] as students is terrific. They earn every penny of it in their efforts. I get that, of course."
The message is that athletes should always know better. They know exactly what they are doing when they sell apparel. And if they do it, they are wrong and violating their amateur status. As outdated as that idea might sound, the amateur ideal is the basis for why the NCAA exists.
"We collectively have to make sure that they know it, know what the rules are," Emmert said. "It's an educational process. It's something that we have to work with the universities on and make student-athletes know what the rules are. The rules are complicated but some less-so than others."
The last year hasn't been kind to the process. The NCAA seems to be reacting more aggressively to athletes who seem to be pursuing extra benefits more aggressively. There was that now infamous party during the summer on South Beach. North Carolina is dealing with a double-edged investigation. Alabama lost its best defensive lineman for two games. The NCAA and NFL have been in talks on how to deal with agent issues.
Naming Emmert as the next NCAA CEO in the spring was greeted with overwhelming approval. No one person can clean up the sleaze, but he can make the NCAA more credible, more successful and, yes, perhaps more powerful. Emmert's agenda -- like Myles' -- is to benefit the student-athlete at every turn. Unlike Myles, he is seen as a "jock" college CEO having presided over two BCS schools (LSU, Washington) with traditionally powerful football programs and one school with a big-time basketball program (Connecticut).
Emmert knows he is inheriting these issues -- some of them that never seem to go away in amateur athletics. In this wide-ranging interview, he talks about the NCAA enforcement process, a football playoff, the agent issue and the misnomer that, "Oh my God, what are they [NCAA] doing with all that cash?"
CBSSports.com What realistically can come out of meeting with NFL sources over the agent issue in the short term and long term?
Mark Emmert: "The single most important thing both short term and long term is have the NCAA and NFL come together and talk about a problem of mutual interest. That's, in and of itself, a small step but it's rarely been taken. It's one of those cases where the NCAA can demonstrate its ability to serve as a broker to bring the right people together."
CBSSports.com What about the rash of these cases regarding improper contact by agents? A director of enforcement, Julie Roe, said recently it was basically because of good detective work by the enforcement staff why all these cases came down at the same time.
Emmert: "That's certainly my understanding but I'm not on the job yet. Talking to people in enforcement and Jim Isch that's what it sounds like. It sounds like good hard work."
CBSSports.com It sounds like this Agent, Gambling and Amateurism division of the enforcement staff is relatively young and energetic. Can we expect more vigilance in this area?
|More on Green, NCAA|
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Emmert: "I'm certainly pleased with the staff people I've seen there. I think you're right. They're energetic and work hard and bring the right values to the table. It is a case that they come when [cases] come. I know there is often an effort to interpret why something happens when it happens but as often as not it's happenstance ... like most things in life. My interest is getting people to engage in the right kind of behavior."
CBSSports.com Is there an initiative to expand the entire enforcement staff?
Emmert: "The answer is I don't know yet. I haven't had a chance to dig in and look at it."
CBSSports.com: Do you have, for lack of a better term, an agenda or an issue you want to push going forward?
Emmert: "First of all, absolutely, in the sense that it is constantly reinforcing the fact that we are there to serve our student-athletes. The NCAA is, in fact, a collegiate association. Everything we do we have to constantly ask ourselves how does this affect student-athletes on the ground?"
CBSSports.com: What role, if any, does the NCAA play in a Division I-A football postseason discussion?
Emmert: "The fact is the NCAA doesn't have a role in that debate other than if the presidents working with their commissioners want us to play a role we're more than happy to do it. I serve the association members. If it's determined they want to move in that direction I'm more than happy to help. And if they don't, that's OK, too."
CBSSports.com: I hear all this blowback about, "Why shouldn't the players make money off a $1,000 jersey?" What is your response to that?
Emmert: "That's fueled by two fundamental misperceptions. The first is that the universities and NCAA are, quote, making all this money off these things. As NCAA studies have shown in the past and shown again this past year, there are only a handful -- literally, you can count them on your fingers and toes -- universities in America that so much as break even on intercollegiate athletics.
"The high profile sports of football and men's basketball generate a good amount of revenue all of which gets redeployed out to support the rest of intercollegiate athletics. The same is true of the NCAA. We get big stories [done about] doing a media rights deal with CBS/Turner and it's [at least] $8.8 billion and everybody sees those huge numbers and thinks, 'Oh my God, what are they doing with all that cash?' As you know, it gets distributed back out to the member institutions. Somewhere around 95-96 percent of all the revenue goes back to the institutions directly or indirectly to support student-athletes.
"The component that is spent on the administration of the NCAA is something like four percent. The first misperception is this notion that somehow universities are making buckets of money. Quite the contrary.
"The second misnomer is student-athletes are student-athletes. They're not employees. They came to the universities to get an education and participate in their sport. They are not in a position where they should be paid as employees or where they should be benefitting beyond what they get which is an extraordinary set of benefits. I don't know how you went to school but getting a full-time as students is terrific. They earn every penny of it in their efforts. I get that, of course.
"They are provided with extraordinary opportunities to excel in athletics and should they -- for the very small portion that want to move into professional athletics -- get an opportunity to do that ... we're preparing them to be successful at it."
CBSSports.com: These student-athletes absolutely have to know what they're doing when Player X sells his jersey or Player B gets on a jet and knows where they're going to a party. Don't they?
Emmert: "We collectively have to make sure that they know it, know what the rules are. It's an educational process. It's something that we have to work with the universities on and make student-athletes know what the rules are. The rules are complicated but some less-so than others."
CBSSports.com: It has been speculated there have been and will be harsher penalties handed down by the NCAA. Is that accurate?
Emmert: "The penalties that get imposed are done by infractions committees that are made up of member representatives and citizens at large. Not by the NCAA, per se. It's a bit like a grand jury model, a jury of your peers. I like that a lot. It's proven to be very effective. There's not been any coordinated effort to quote, crack down, or impose stricter sanctions. What you're seeing is very good work on the enforcement staff side."
CBSSports.com: Will there be any more funds available for schools to hire more compliance people? That's one way to police what's going on on campuses. There are academic enhancement funds, student-athlete funds. Some of the large schools have large compliance departments but some smaller schools don't.
Emmert: "To be honest, that's one I haven't thought about and haven't had a conversation on. It's an interesting notion and one that I'll keep in my mind."