This blog has been updated with the news that Georgia is filing a request with the NCAA for Todd Gurley’s reinstatement. A full column will be posted later today.
UPDATE: Here’s a link to the full column.
Here are two updates on the Todd Gurley situation:
• The Georgia tailback is still under suspension, but school officials announced it will file a request for reinstatement with the NCAA later today and hopes to have him available for “our next game,” which against Florida next week. The question is whether the NCAA will relatively rubber-stamp this and limit Gurley’s suspension to two games or add to it.
Gurley released a statement, reading: “I want to thank the University, coaches, teammates, and the Bulldog Nation for their patience and support. I take full responsibility for the mistakes I made, and I can’t thank the University, my coaches, and teammates enough for supporting me throughout this process. I’m looking forward to getting back on the field with my teammates.”
• The NCAA has been hammered over the issue of student-athletes being allowed to profit off their likeness and image. I wrote about it here. Even when the NCAA makes seemingly the smart and correct ruling on whether a young athlete can profit off their image or likeness, it exposes just how lame and contradictory all of the organization’s other rulings are.
Consider: During Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night, 13-year-old Little League pitching sensation Mo’ne Davis appeared in a Chevrolet commercial. Here it is:
Several people on Twitter and other forms of social media immediately wondered if Davis, who clearly profited off her image as an amateur athlete, had jeopardized her eligibility should she one day wish to play college sports. (Davis has said her dream is to play basketball at Connecticut.) After all, how was this different from Georgia running back Todd Gurley, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and presumably others capitalizing off their image by allegedly signing autographs for profit?
Credit to the NCAA, an organization that generally is slow to respond to queries, because it quickly issued a statement on Twitter (10:17 p.m.): “Mo’ne Davis may be paid for appearing in the Chevy commercial without impacting her NCAA eligibility.”
I asked @InsideTheNCAA if it would be OK for Mo’ne Davis to sell her autograph as well:
The NCAA then followed up on Twitter with this: “Since January, NCAA Division I membership gave staff more flexibility to consider unique circumstances when determining eligibility. The NCAA staff’s decision was made with this process and based on a combination of considerations. This waiver narrowly extends the rules — which allow Davis to accept the payment and still be eligible in any other sport — to include baseball. The NCAA staff also considered the historically limited opportunities for women to participate to professional baseball. In addition, Davis is much younger than when the vast majority of the prospect rules apply. While this situation is unusual, the flexible approach utilized in this decision is not.”
Here’s my read on the situation: The NCAA is scrambling. And softening. As a I wrote last week, the organization has been sticking its finger in the air to check wind direction with increasing regularity. It realizes it is being hammered over this issue of “amateurism.”
Is the Davis decision good news for Gurley? Maybe. As the NCAA points out, these were unusual circumstances. A 13-year-old female baseball player isn’t the same as a 20-year-old Division I tailback at a major university. But the core issue is really the same. The NCAA can’t deny that.
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