The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 2, 2013

Wrestling with NCAA stupidity

By Dave Ruthenberg, Sports Editor
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Never underestimate the double-standard foolishness of the NCAA, and you will never be surprised. Disappointed? Maybe. Dumbfounded? Quite probably. But not surprised.

The latest round of mind-numbing stupidity from the bureaucratic meddlers that run collegiate sports arises from their decision to rule a University of Minnesota wrestler ineligible, while turning a blind-eye to the doings of Texas A&M’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel, a.k.a Johnny Football.

In its wisdom, the NCAA has declared Joel Bauman ineligible because he has been selling his self-titled rap videos and songs via iTunes.

Bauman, a redshirt sophomore wrestler at Minnesota, was deemed to be in violation of the NCAA rule that states a player is to be considered ineligible if the player “accepts any remuneration for, or permits, the use of his or her name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind.”

The impetus behind such a rule is understandable. It is to prevent kids (mostly those in the high-profile sports of football and basketball) from endorsing products. But, seriously, this is a kid selling his own rap tunes, and hardly getting wealthy doing it.

According to a report in the New York Times, the NCAA actually offered a solution: Sell the stuff on iTunes under an assumed name. Seriously. The irony is  Bauman isn’t really taking issue with the ruling, in fact, he supports it.

Quoted in a Yahoo! Sports story, he said “I totally get why the NCAA did what it did. I should be punished. I’m breaking the rules.”

Bauman technically is right. He did break a rule, albeit one really has to question the NCAA’s selective application of a rule and applying it against an activity that is completely separate and not related to the student’s athletic endeavor.  

His coach, J Robinson, was livid ... with Bauman. “He came here to be a wrestler, not a singer,” he told the New York Times. “He’s got to decide what he wants to do.” Really coach? It seems part of what college is for is to prepare one for life beyond school and, let’s be honest, unless Bauman is headed to the WWE, there isn’t much to be made with a career as a wrestler.

But, while the NCAA has sidelined Bauman, it has taken a different tact as Texas A&M Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel seeks to trademark his nickname, “Johnny Football.” Manziel’s legal team declared it was necessary to trademark the name to protect him from being exploited by anybody wanting to make money off it.

 Of course, Texas A&M has made mega-millions exploiting Manziel’s name and likeness.

Manziel’s legal team already has filed a lawsuit against one guy in Texas who was selling Johnny Football T-shirts for $20, and the NCAA has said Manziel can keep any proceeds in any lawsuit that he wins. Now. Not in escrow or trust for when he turns pro, but now.

So, it is OK for Manziel to make money directly off his nickname and keep it, while a collegiate wrestler is pinned for making a few bucks for rapping.

NCAA illogic at its hypocritical best. Never surprising, but continually dumbfounding.



Ruthenberg is sports editor at the News & Eagle. Contact him at daver@enidnews.com.