Sports Column: Here we go again with UNC

Sports Column: Here we go again with UNC
August 16
09:23 2018

Last week, 13 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill football players were suspended for selling team issued gear.  The suspensions range from one to four games.  The players were guilty of a secondary NCAA violation, but for me this is a non-issue.

North Carolina self-reported the violations to the NCAA.  One of the players suspended is quarterback Chazz Surratt, who was more than likely going to be the opening day starter for the Tar Heels.

All of the trouble for the players stemmed from a pair of sneakers.  The team and staff were issued exclusive pairs of Air Jordan 3s that were not made available to the public.  The players sold the shoes for as much as $2,500 in cash, according to the News & Observer.

$2,500 is a drop in the bucket compared to what these school presidents and the universities make on an annual basis.  I am just not clear why this is even a violation to begin with.  It’s not like the players stole anything or even sold equipment that would be used in a game or for practice.  These were sneakers.

These players are not paid a single dime for making a supposed nonprofit billions per year.  Yes, the NCAA is a tax exempt, nonprofit association that oversees just under 1,300 universities across the nation.  Funny, I know right.

Another thing I find funny is that in most states, the highest paid public employee is the state university’s head football or basketball coach.  From building extravagant stadiums on the students and tax payer dimes to making multibillion dollar TV deals with networks, the NCAA continues to make their money so why no let the players make theirs since they are the ones doing the actual work.

I know they probably had no other choice, but I was somewhat disappointed with the words of UNC Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham and Head Football coach Larry Fedora.  Cunningham said the department was “disappointed” in a press release and Fedora said he was “certainly upset by our players’ actions and how their choices reflect on them, our program and the university.”

Fedora went on to say “these young men knew the rules and are being held responsible for the poor choices they have made.  Accountability is an important core principle in this program. We will learn from this and aim to do better in the future.” 

I literally laughed out loud when I read this for the first time because there is no way he could have said that with a straight face. Next time he should use a better phrase than “poor choices” because I see nothing wrong with selling an item that the university gave to you.  These kids are just trying to make a few bucks to buy some food, go out on a date, take a trip for spring break or even send money back to their parents.  It pales in comparison to the millions and billions made by those who do no work at all.

I am hopeful that this is not the actual feelings of a coach that makes over a half million dollars for his base salary.  I hope he realizes that the only reason he makes this kind of money is because of the free labor he gets on Saturday afternoons from him players.  It makes me sick that the people who actually put in the work receive nothing for their efforts.

And for those who say that the players are being paid by receiving a scholarship, save it.  Many of the players at the top Division I schools are looking at college more like a trade school than a university.  Football is a trade, just like an electrician or a carpenter.  Many of these players who play basketball or football at these top schools have alternative plans outside of learning earth science or astronomy.

I will continue to speak out against the NCAA and how they are pulling off one of the biggest cons in American history.  These players should not have been suspended but rather paid for their work.  If you don’t want to pay them, then at least let them make a buck selling their likeness or team issued gear.

Something has to change.  This dictatorship the NCAA has over the players must have an expiration date.  I know I am not the only person in the country that feels this way.  Let’s fix this and do the right thing.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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