CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Ye olde notebook:West Virginia University athletic director Oliver Luck can identify with the latest situation involving Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
In case you've somehow missed it, ESPN reported earlier this month Manziel is being investigated by the NCAA amid charges he took money for signing autographs, a violation."I can tell you about people wanting autographs from waiting on Andrew," Luck said of his son, the former Stanford and current Indianapolis Colts quarterback.
"You have kids with scraps of paper, but then you'll have men with bags of helmets and poster-sized pictures . . . They'll follow you to dinner. They're clearly selling for profit."If some of them got to Manziel, his college football eligibility is in jeopardy. And now some schools are taking action to avoid what Louisville coach Charlie Strong called "a national problem." Louisville players - especially star QB Teddy Bridgewater - have been told not to sign anything. Miami Hurricane players were told to sign only school-issued posters at the school's annual CanesFest."We haven't [taken action]," Luck said. "I didn't see the stories until after our fan day. But I will tell you it's something we'll look at. This is about people profiting on kids. It's been happening since I was in school, but you didn't have eBay or things like that."Luck said many of the student-athletes disdain signing items."The athletes aren't making money," he said. "They like signing for little kids, but when adults ask them, they're put in an uncomfortable position."
Manziel's situation might be an isolated incident (although other current stars like USC's Marqise Lee have also been investigated). But Luck called it "a match on a powder keg" and an incident that "highlights all the NCAA's problems in this world of big-time big-money athletics."
Change, he said, is coming as the five "power conferences" move away from the rest. Luck calls the move a "fait accompli.""We need to redefine scholarships, which hasn't been done since the 1960s," Luck said. "I'd support a stipend for athletes across the board. Maybe $2,000 per year; $1,000 per semester. If a kid is on a partial scholarship, say a 40 percent scholarship, he or she would get 40 percent of that."I told [assistant AD] Michael Szul to put it in our budget a year ago."The question put to Luck: can WVU afford it?
"Yes," he said.
Although the ability or lack thereof to pay athletes is a driving force behind the "power" separation, Luck said there are other reasons.
"For instance there are the one-off [guarantee] games where we're being held up for $1 to 2 million," said the AD. "There's also the belief by some we should be relaxing recruiting regulations. There's a number of things, but the biggest one is television and the dollars involved there."Indeed, there are the haves - and the have-nots.And finally . . .
A WVU hoops update.On Tuesday, Mountaineer coach Bob Huggins said the eligibility of signee Elijah Macon is still in the hands of the NCAA Clearinghouse. "Hopefully," he said, "we'll find something out by the end of the week."
Huggins' assistant, Larry Harrison, meanwhile, said signee Nate Adrian "was the surprise of the summer.""He's a lot further along than we thought," Harrison said of the Morgantown High product.Also, if you're searching for Mountaineer guard Terry Henderson, you're out of luck. Unless you're in Munich. Or Prague.Huggins said Henderson is on a basketball tour of Germany and the Czech Republic through Roy Blumenthal's Global Sports Academy.Henderson's Goodwill Select team is in Dachau, Germany, today. And, yes, according to the itinerary, the athletes will tour the Nazi concentration camp. On Thursday, it's off to Prague and the Prague Castle, which housed the Kings of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Emperors.Sounds like a neat learning experience for Henderson, in addition to a chance to hone his game.Reach Mitch Vingle at 304-348-4827, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at twitter.com/MitchVingle.