CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - When Buckeye nation packs ‘The Shoe’, they do it to watch one of the best teams in the nation, not to mention the best damn band in the land.
But when they hit the team shop, they do it to buy a replica jersey, and whether the name’s on it or not, we all know it’s Justin Fields. Or in the past, Zeke Elliott. And they should get a piece of the action.
“It’s coming,” MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said during an interview on Friday. “It’s coming, and I think it’s coming maybe quicker than people think. I think we’ve all come to the agreement that the status quo is not acceptable.”
Steinbrecher is in his 12th year as commissioner of the MAC, a conference that could be affected if they don’t do this right, and money starts changing hands for the wrong reasons.
“The challenge for us is, how do we manage the student-athlete being able to accept payment by third-parties without it completely disrupting the recruiting process or the transfer process.”
By allowing players to financially benefit from the use of their names, images and likeness, the NCAA will be following the lead of several states, including California, that have passed laws allowing the same right.
Football and basketball student-athletes will benefit the most.
In the meantime, next week the MAC tournament will once again be held here in Cleveland, with the winner moving on to the Big Dance. We always root for the Zips, because they haven’t danced since 2013, or the Golden Flashes, because they’ve danced only once in 12 years.
But in the bigger picture, I root for the NCAA to make it right. Don’t pay players to play. Just let 'em cash in on the brand THEY’VE built up.
The name on the front of the jersey will always be more important.
But that doesn’t mean the name on the back means nothing.
And while it won’t be equal ... men and women in lower-profile sports won’t make what the star running back makes ... well, life’s not fair.
“Is it fair or is it equitable?," Steinbrecher asked. “That’s kind of the argument. You let the market go where the market go.”