Since word first broke that the NCAA was investigating Johnny Manziel for allegedly accepting payment for thousands of autographs, every talking head in the sports universe has jumped in front of a TV camera to weigh in on the situation.
However, someone we have not heard is a decision-maker that actually matters. On Thursday, however, that all changed as Texas A&M University System chancellor John Sharp weighed in with his personal opinion on both the Manziel saga and the larger issue of whether student-athletes should be entitled to payment above and beyond full academic scholarships.
“He’s a good kid,” Sharp said in an interview with NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth on Thursday. “He’s a lot better kid than I was when I was a freshman and sophomore in college. He’s a good honest kid.
“I don’t believe the stories I hear from ticket brokers and people like that.”
Obviously, Sharp understands that his opinion is not the law. The NCAA still has rules in place and until they are changed, all student-athletes must abide by them. Sharp used the example of Olympic athletes (allowed to sell their autographs even while they are in school) as to why his opinion might be something that needs to be looked into by the governing body of collegiate athletics.
“I suspect, courts or somebody or the NCAA is going to have to take a look at that and see whether or not they’re violating someone’s anti-trust deal. How can the NCAA, for instance, make money off of his jerseys and he can’t, you know, make two bucks off of signing something like that, like other athletes can who happen to be in the Olympics? That’s just my opinion.”
While nothing will change in the short-term, it is refreshing to see someone at Texas A&M coming to Manziel’s aid in this situation. It might not have been so easy to pass the funding on a $450 million renovation to Kyle Field without a Heisman Trophy winner’s face to paste all over it.
Watch Sharp’s entire statement in the clip below, courtesy of AL.com.