Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon said "it's crazy" that others are allowed to profit off his autograph while he's not allowed to receive any compensation for it.
NCAA rules prohibit athletes from profiting off their name or likeness. Gordon spoke to the unfairness of the policy and said he's visited an auction website out of curiosity to see what items it had with his name on them.
“It’s crazy that they’re making money,” said Gordon. “It’s crazy. You think, like, man what if I got some money off that. I should get something, but it just doesn’t work out like that right now.”
The debate surrounding college athletes' name and likeness rights was raised again by the recent suspension of Georgia running back Todd Gurley, who is being investigated as to whether he was paid to autograph memorabilia.
SI.com's Andy Staples reported around the time of Gurley's suspension that a person told Georgia that the running back was paid $400 to sign 80 items of memorabilia in Athens, Ga., this past spring. He's being held out of practices and games while the school looks into the allegations, and there's currently no timetable for his return.
Defending Heisman Trophy-winner Jameis Winston of Florida State also is being looked into for potential violations involving his autograph, though Florida State said last week that there's "no information" that Winston accepted money to sign memorabilia.
Before last season, it was alleged that then-defending Heisman winner Johnny Manziel was paid to autograph memorabilia. The claims were never proven, but Manziel was ultimately suspended for the first half of Texas A&M's season opener. He voiced support for Gurley and for athletes' rights to their name and likeness in general in the wake of Gurley's suspension.
The plaintiffs' victory in the O'Bannon case this summer could lead to further legal rulings that challenge the ability of the NCAA or any other body to restrict name and likeness rights, but NCAA president Mark Emmert said Monday that the organization won't consider allowing compensation for athletes' name and likeness.
Gordon said he'd be in favor of receiving compensation in some fashion for playing college football.
“I wouldn’t mind it all. It would be nice,” Gordon said. “I wouldn’t mind getting money for what we do.”
- Ben Estes