Former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia – now a college football analyst for Saturday Down South – caused quite a stir last week when he argued against NCAA rules preventing players from profiting from autographs.
Garcia, who played in the SEC from 2007 to 2011, said he witnessed money handshakes in exchange for autographs or memorabilia “all day, every day.” In fact, he said he heard that one player once received $160,000 for one season of autographs and the like.
“It could be completely B.S., to be honest with you,” Garcia said on The MoJo Show. “I heard (that) from (someone who) I would (consider) a pretty reliable source. But I think a lot of people hear different stories and it could be completely inaccurate. I would assume that it’s probably not a one-time deal. I’m sure there’s a bunch of these guys that are getting paid that amount of money. Whether or not the NCAA is ever going to be able to stop it, I don’t know. But I think that definitely raised a bunch of eyebrows when I threw that number out there.”
Garcia, like Brian Jones, believes college athletes should be able to profit from their likeness – in part because there’s no guarantee they’re going to be stars in the NFL. The college game might be the only level in which they have market value, and they’ve got to strike while the iron is hot.
“That’s a great point. That’s a valid point,” Garcia said. “You earn it. I think a lot of people say, ‘Well, you got a free education, you got room and board paid for and you don’t have any debt after college.’ That’s irrelevant. We earned the right to get a free education. I think that if we are performing well enough in college, I think if somebody wants to pay us for our autograph, I don’t think we should say no to that. That’s ridiculous. I don’t understand why these guys are not allowed to profit or be compensated for writing their name on their jersey. I think it’s a retarded rule.”
In his initial interview with Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte, Garcia said he wishes people would’ve come to him with money handshakes when he was starring in college, “but they thought of me as some rich white kid so I didn’t really get benefits from that.”
Garcia hopes that the NCAA changes its rules regarding autographs immediately. If not, it’s possible that players from different teams and different conferences could one day unite and demand change.
“It’s absolutely crazy the NCAA will not allow a player to be compensated for their signature,” Garcia said. “It’s a damn signature. They’re not selling anything illegal or robbing anybody. They are literally writing their name on a jersey that they are wearing. For somebody to say you can’t profit from that or be compensated, I think that is completely absurd, and hopefully it changes immediately. But you never know.”