This is an excerpt from a column I wrote for Sporting Life Arkansas. You can read it in its entirety here.
In the last year, the Razorbacks sold a ton of t-shirts, hoodies, jerseys, socks, flip-flops, trinkets, Brew Pig Sooie (not to be confused with the much-beloved Woo Pig Chewy, RIP), Pop Tarts, Jell-O, this-and-thats and what-nots. And considering how awful the first half of that year was, it’s a testament to the athletic department’s marketing and branding efforts, as well as the devotion of the Arkansas Razorbacks’ fan base that people were still snapping up whatever they could find with a Razorback attached to it.
On the surface, this might seem like just another in what has been a long line of "business is good" notices over the last few years. And, yes, it should be comforting to fans that the people responsible for running the athletic department are generating high levels of revenue.
But when I read the news Monday morning, I realized something different. If you pay attention to college football beyond the goings on with the local teams, you’ve surely noticed that the major conferences are in a political battle with the NCAA regarding paying players. There hasn’t been a way to pay them that everyone agrees on, with options including full cost of attendance scholarships or a flat stipend for every player.
But one idea, which has been in the spotlight particularly in the wake of Johnny Manziel’s autograph escapades as well as the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA and EA Sports over player likenesses in video games, has been to give the players whose names or likenesses make money, cuts of the revenue. For instance, all those "anonymous" #8 Razorback jerseys people wore over the last couple of years in support of Tyler Wilson (and Tevin Mitchel had his fans too, I’m sure)? This plan would conceivably allow those players to get some of that money.
I go further into an explanation of how Arkansas would compete with other "larger" programs in the full piece. Read it here.