College coaches are having to answer questions about athletes signing autographs in-light of recent college football scandals.
In the last two years, investigations involving Florida State quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, Georgia running back Todd Gurley and former Heisman winner and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel have been major news in college football.
The issue comes not from the act of signing autographs, but taking money for a mass amount of autographs, which are often sold by memorabilia dealers.
Naturally, this kind of thing also applies to college basketball, since athletes are star players with massive Twitter followings coming out of high school. Coaches were asked about autographs at Big 12 Media Day this week and Kansas coach Bill Self and Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg offered up some thoughts on the recent issues.
In a report from Amie Just of the Associated Press, Self said that they talk to their players about it and go through the schools compliance directors.
“We’ve run it through our compliance in the past and have ways to handle it,” Self said.
“Somebody asks for an autograph, the perfect thing to say is, ‘Who do you want me to make it out to?’ If they say, ‘Don’t — just sign your name,’ well, then you automatically know it could be for sale, and with you having no knowledge of it,” Self said.
Hoiberg made it sound like a constant threat as well.
“All the time, until you’re blue in the face,” Hoiberg said about autograph rule awareness at media day.
“They’re 18- and 19-year old kids,” Hoiberg said. “They spend a lot more time on their own than they do with the coaches. You do as much as you possibly can by trying to educate them.”
Ultimately, players are going to keep taking money for doing things if they get paid enough. They’ll try to conceal it as much as possible, athletes making money for playing high-level college ball will continue.
Coaches just have to make sure they try to dissuade their own players from doing this for the sake of their program. Coaches can’t offer a player money to pass that offer up, but if they can move the player on to the pros quickly, then there’s less of a reason to risk it.
The one-and-done rule helps in this equation. While in college football, players have to play at least two seasons and have more time to be approached and make a mistake, basketball players in the one-and-done system are in school for six-to-nine months before becoming a professional. It’s easier to curtail taking money for half a year than college football players get.
Either way, college basketball coaches should be concerned with this and teach their players NCAA policy as best they can and hope the players listen.