Jake Locker signs baseball contract

Submitted by Topher on September 11th, 2009 at 11:22 AM

So I understand why college football players can't sign endorsement deals or have their names on jerseys that are sold to the public.

What I don't understand is why the same players can sign minor league baseball contracts! They are getting paid a retainer to play a sport, doesn't that compromise their amateur status?

How come that skier at Colorado couldn't get ski endorsements, but Drew Henson and Jake Locker can bank major bones in a baseball contract?

On the very same ESPN football page, it says that an Oklahoma linebacker has been ruled ineligible because he played in a semi-pro league before he went to community college and then to OU. Bizarre.

Comments

formerlyanonymous

September 11th, 2009 at 11:26 AM ^

This is old news FYI, but the Angels are paying for his last year of college since his scholarship is completely revoked for doing this. Locker won't actually start his baseball career until after the season ends. They make exceptions for this when you're doing different sports as seasons and drafts for different sports overlap.

The OU player played football, the sport he was planning on playing in college. Likewise, Locker can't play for the Huskies baseball team.

I can't remember what the status of the skiier was, perhaps it was because he had personal endorsements for his skiing that could be used by corrupt football boosters.

Magnus

September 11th, 2009 at 11:29 AM ^

Do you mean Jake Locker SHOULD or SHOULDN'T be able to retain his amateur status?

If you take away a kid's amateur football-playing status because he's talented at, I dunno, table tennis, doesn't that seem unfair? Yeah, he's a professional, but at a completely different sport.

If a star college football player is also talented at juggling and gets paid to juggle at kids' birthday parties, should he be forced to give up his amateur status on the gridiron? The talents are completely separate entities.

Topher

September 11th, 2009 at 12:19 PM ^

"Do you mean Jake Locker SHOULD or SHOULDN'T be able to retain his amateur status?"

I don't have an answer for that, but I have two issues. Locker's case is a bit different than the college players (almost all QBs it seems - Henson, Kenny Kelly) who play minor league ball in the summer and football in the fall.

-I think it is unfair that an athlete can't make ANY semblance of income from his athletic status (while admins in every big-time football office arrange jobs for players in the summer) while his teammate can take it to the bank on a contract for another sport - wear-and-tear on the body that possibly reduces his teammates' chances of success.

-I think it is bizarre that an endorsement deal for another sport is verboten, but a baseball contract does not violate amateurism. The very concept of the term "amateur" implies you don't get paid to produce as an athlete. He is paid to play baseball - he's a professional athlete.

I further find it bizarre that guys like Chris Weinke and Josh Booty can play years of professional (minor league) baseball, then return to college football as if they walked in off the street.

Magnus

September 11th, 2009 at 12:40 PM ^

Okay . . . where do you draw the line for "sport" though? Baseball has very little to do with football. Pitching a baseball isn't exactly the same as throwing a football. And people like Dennis Dixon and Ricky Williams (I think) were outfielders, so what does that have to do with playing quarterback and running back, respectively? Moving beyond baseball . . . what about playing cricket professionally? What about jai alai? What about lacrosse? What about curling? What about darts? What about professional dancing?

Slowly you travel down the list of sports, and where do you draw the line between what is "acceptable" and what's "unacceptable"?

Athletes DO get an income for their amateur status. They get an education (okay, okay...), they get food/money for food, and they get a monthly stipend for shelter and living expenses. It's not a great living with unlimited amounts of wealth, but they never go hungry or without shelter. These kids choose to play a college sport. 99% of them don't go pro in that sport (according to that commercial), so they're doing it for their own fun, self-worth, etc. I really don't see the problem.

Yinka Double Dare

September 11th, 2009 at 11:29 AM ^

You can't get paid (or have been paid in the past) for playing the sport you play but you can get paid for playing another sport, and because the NCAA doesn't feel like figuring out whether or not your endorsements are as a result of your football or as a result of your other sport (even though in Bloom's case it was pretty freaking obvious his endorsements had nothing to do with football), they just have a blanket ban on it pretty much.

The baseball thing has been going on forever. Ricky Williams was a minor leaguer, as was Dennis Dixon, and plenty of others. Danny Ainge played college basketball as well as minor league baseball way back in the day.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

September 11th, 2009 at 11:32 AM ^

They are pretty arcane rules. Jeremy Bloom's problem was endorsements though, which I can definitely see why that would be a problem. Yes, he was obviously a skier and getting skiing endorsements, but it leads down the path of boosters paying kids to appear in car dealer commercials, or a booster "endorsing" a kid millions for any sort of competition from a 10K to a sailboat race to foosball, whether or not he's actually any good at it.

Tater

September 11th, 2009 at 1:16 PM ^

I have long advocated throwing out about ninety percent of the rulebook and allowing players to be paid. The NCAA can pound the pulpit about "the welfare of the student-athletes" all they want, but they all get rich off of the efforts of football and basketball players, while the players aren't allowed to get their share.

For those who say a schollie is enough, I think that works great in theory, but not in fact. The sports pages are littered with stories of ex-athletes from many schools who failed to graduate and ended up with nothing, on the streets, or worse.

The NCAA wants to "have their cake and eat it, too." They profess to care about the student-athlete, but don't go so far as to even guarantee that they will have the opportunity to graduate, or guarantee that they will have enough money to take care of common daily expenses.

I think the NCAA should do a couple of things to put their money where their mouths are. First, they should guarantee a lifetime exemption to paying for classes for any scholarship athlete. If someone hasn't graduated in the correct amount of time, or had to do a non-marketable major to have enough time to spend on making himself better, let him go to school after his career is over for as long as he wants. If he is good enough to get into grad school, let that happen, too.

The second thing I think they should do is allow athletes to make money, either from outside sources, a stipend, or both. It certainly would save the enforcement office a lot of time and money. Critics may say that this would create an oligarchic structure, but that's exactly what we have now, anyway.

As it stands now, athletes are disposable heroes; we cheer for them one day, and throw them to the curb the next. They deserve better.