Texas A&M star quarterback Johnny Manziel's suspension for the first half of the Aggies' opener last Saturday against Rice was a sickening display of the contemptible hypocrisy of the NCAA and college football's major powers.
Technically, A&M declared “Johnny Football” ineligible and the NCAA reinstated him after the first half, according to The Associated Press. Mr. Manziel, who last season became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, drew this wrist slap for an “inadvertent” violation of NCAA rules by signing autographs — despite A&M and the NCAA saying “there is no evidence Manziel received money in exchange ... .”
That finding is contrary to ESPN reports that cited unidentified sources who claim Manziel was paid thousands of dollars to sign thousands of autographs for memorabilia brokers in Texas, Florida and Connecticut the day before his team started preseason practice.
But even if Manziel did sell thousands of his autographs for thousands of dollars, his suspension would be no less wrong.
Running what amounts to a minor-league feeder system for the NFL's money machine, Texas A&M, its fellow collegiate gridiron powers and the NCAA make billions of dollars off their players. Yes, these players have scholarships. But they are denied not just a piece of college football's financial windfall but also opportunities to capitalize on their own achievements for their own benefit — which they should have the right to do, like anyone else.
If that's not contemptibly hypocritical, what is?