NCAA about to open floodgates
Endorsement deals will end amateurism
The NCAA’s Board of Governors will soon approve guidelines permitting Division I athletes to sign endorsement deals while pursuing higher education on college campuses.
Congress will be asked to set federal standards in order to discourage states from making up their own rules.
Without that congressional intervention, football-crazy states like Alabama will actively work to re-establish their gridiron dominance over conference rivals in neighboring jurisdictions like Mississippi and Louisiana by enticing elite schoolboy recruits from Biloxi to Baton Rouge with promises of myriad money-making opportunities available in Tuscaloosa.
That legislation could be in place as early as January, 2021.
Wait, that’s just in time for the college football playoffs and few months shy of March Madness.
You know if Dabo Swinney can guide Clemson back to the College Football Playoff promised land — very likely due to the utter lack of competition it faces in the ACC — then it’s quite possible the networks will air Head & Shoulders commercials featuring future NFL lottery pick Trevor Lawrence.
And why stop there?
If I’m handling Lawrence’s marketing, I’d be launching a line of hair care products over on the Home Shopping Network because, hey, no Tiger fan in their right mind would resist coloring their hair Greg Brady orange for the big game.
You can also be sure that before the ink is dry on this legislation, prep school factories like IMG Academy in Florida and Oak Hill Academy in Virginia will be adding classes to their current curriculum like Marketing Yourself 101 and Effective Negotiating Tactics 202 to encourage the branding of its enterprising future All-Americans.
Had these rules existed in my era, it’s a sure bet Home Depot would have seen a spike in sales of tangerine-colored side-by-sides if they used William “The Refrigerator” Perry as their prime pitchman during Clemson’s 1981 title run.
The marketing geniuses at Amana and Frigidaire surely enlisted to come up with some catchy sales pitch.
One caveat is that athletes won’t be allowed to don school-branded apparel in their personal endorsement deals.
I’ll go out on a limb here and wager that Micah Parsons will be wearing something navy blue when they film him behind the wheel that shiny new convertible in that commercial for Bellefonte BMW.
Athletes will also be required, of course, to disclose financial terms of contracts to their athletic departments, along with their relationships with any individuals involved. Sure they will. Just like they declare the income from those hundred-dollar handshakes on their W-2 forms.
Who’s kidding who?
College sports fans can expect to see a cornucopia of ads in every game program or even on stadium scoreboards during TV timeouts.
That speed merchant who turns on the jets will endorse HomeSpa Therapeutics while the lineman affectionately known as the road grader will schill for Caterpillar heavy equipment.
The quarterback who has a rifle for an arm will ink a deal with Winchester and that running back who hauls the mail will be cashing checks from the U.S. postal service.
A basketball team’s 3-point sharpshooter will sign a deal with Daisy BB Guns while their top rebounder who cleans the glass will do the same for Windex.
That clutch free throw shooter with ice water in his veins will endorse Aquafina Pure Water.
The end of all things amateur is at hand.
Contz was a starting offensive tackle on Penn State’s first national championship team in 1982 and played six NFL seasons. He published a book in 2017, “When the Lions Roared: Joe Paterno and One of College Football’s Greatest Teams.” He resides in Pittsburgh.