NCAA president: No memorabilia talk

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

CHICAGO -- NCAA president Mark Emmert said Monday there is no talk about allowing compensation for autographs and signed memorabilia.

Emmert made his remarks at a luncheon with business leaders while Georgia running back Todd Gurley remains suspended due to a school investigation into possible violations of NCAA rules involving autographs and memorabilia.

Florida State also is reviewing whether star quarterback Jameis Winston received improper benefits from a large number of autographs being sold online.

"There's not anyone talking about change in that rule right now," Emmert said. "All of those things will be debated by all of the conferences and the member presidents going forward."

Emmert declined to say whether he would be in favor of compensation on a limited basis because of the pending O'Bannon case, which the NCAA is appealing.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled Aug. 8 that the NCAA broke the law by restricting schools from providing money beyond current scholarship limits to athletes.

She said schools should be allowed to place up to $5,000 per athlete per year of competition into a trust fund for football players and men's basketball players, which they could collect after leaving school.

"It's an area that, when you stop and look at it, it's hard to imagine where you put a cap on it," Emmert said. "Is it going to become a free, open-market bidding war between universities? If that's what people want, then they can have that. But as for some vehicle controlling that, it's hard to see how it simply doesn't become a wide-open bidding war."

Emmert also expressed confidence that NCAA members would adopt a new model in January that would allow for larger scholarships that included miscellaneous expenses, broader insurance coverage and multiyear commitments.

A reform plan that transfers more power to the five richest football conferences recently sailed through a 60-day override period. The NCAA Board of Directors voted on Aug. 7 to allow the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC to unilaterally change some of the rules that have applied to all Division I schools for years.

At the same time, Emmert reiterated the NCAA's stance that student-athletes are not university employees and should not be compensated as such. According to Emmert, 22 universities had a positive cash flow in their athletic programs last year among the 1,100 that played NCAA-affiliated sports.

"Intercollegiate athletics in America has always been based upon the notion that these aren't paid employees," he said. "We're going to get an opportunity probably in front of the Supreme Court to argue whether or not there ought to be collegiate athletics that looks like it does today.

"There are certainly a lot of plaintiff lawyers who are arguing that student-athletes ought to be able to pursue whatever recompense they can and be paid any way they want to be paid. Most everybody in college sports thinks that model would blow up college sports in any way it looks today, so we'll have to have that debate."