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UNC Students Make Money Moves, NCAA Naturally Suspends Them

UNC Arena by Anders94 is licensed under CC BY SA-3.0

UNC Students Make Money Moves, NCAA Naturally Suspends Them

Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

Every once in a while I read a story that I missed that makes my blood temperature rise to a steady boil. The story of 13 UNC Football players from this past week is one such story.  Let me explain.

Back in July, it was reported that 13 players for UNC Football had committed  “secondary violations” to the NCAA sometime around February. What were those violations? Selling Player Exclusive UNC Air Jordan 3 Retro sneakers.

The Shoe

Any sneakerhead who likes Jordans (so, damn near all of them) will typically include the Jordan 3 in their Top Shoes of All Time. The will also always covet highly limited shoes. Player Exclusives are amongst the most rare. Add to that the connection between UNC and Michael Jeffery Jordan himself, and you have yourself a ridiculously valuable pair of shoes. There were only 175 pairs of these made. If you’re a size 13 and have a spare $12,000 you can grab yourself a pair at Flight Club.

No, that wasn’t a typo. A pair of these shoes are actually on sale at the notorious Flight Club for 12 Grand. Now, it should be said that Flight Club always comes with an extreme mark up but needless to say, these kicks are expensive.

The Suspension

Which brings us back to the 13 players selling these. The pairs sold from anywhere between a reported $150 and $3500, which led to varying degrees of suspension. 9 of the 13 players will be suspended for 4 games for selling for over $1000, including a few defensive starters as well as QB Chazz Surratt, who was expected to compete for the starting job this year. Of the remaining 4, 2 will be suspended for 2 games and 2 will be hit with a 1 game ban. The NCAA is allowing these suspensions to be staggered so UNC doesn’t have to deal with all of them at the same time. That said, these suspensions are bullshit.

I am certainly upset by our player’s actions and how their choices reflect on them, our program, and the University. These young men knew the rules and are being held responsible for the poor choices they have made.

Larry Fedora – UNC Head Football Coach

That quote above from UNC head coach Larry Fedora is even more egregious than the self-reported suspensions. This is a man who has recently been in the news going on and on about how he’s not convinced football causes CTE and that football is under attack and if it goes down “our country will go down too.” To have the audacity to not stand up for your players against a corrupt system that does nothing but manipulate them to make a buck is shameful to the highest degree.

The Bullshit

Yes, the players broke the rules. The rules are completely unjust though. And this is even beyond the whole selling of autographs that players routinely get in trouble for. No, these players are missing a quarter of their season for something they did with a gift.

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but in America most people are free to do whatever they want with their personal property so long as doesn’t break any laws. The shoes the players received from the school were gifts, and the second they were accepted by the players they became those men’s personal property. Where does the NCAA get off telling young student athletes what they can do with their personal property.

Maybe if the NCAA actually allowed their student athletes to make a portion of the millions of dollars generated by their involvement in college sports, they wouldn’t have to resort to selling shoes for money.

Think about when you were in college. I’ll bet an extra $2,500 would have gone a long, long way, no? It’s the same for these kids, and maybe even more so since they aren’t allowed to have an outside job or accept any money outside of scholarships for tuition and housing. Nike/Jordan Brand and UNC can sell jerseys that feature the numbers of their star players and make money off them, but the players themselves who risk injury every week can’t sell off something that was gifted to them?

Some people might argue that they players could’ve held onto the shoes until they graduated and then sold them. Yes, that is a possibility, and in fact doing so would’ve probably increased the value of said shoes, but college kids are notoriously broke and need the money now, not in four years. And it overlooks the fact that this shouldn’t even be an issue in the first place.

Putting it another way, would you be able to bring yourself to hold onto a pair of shoes without wearing them for potentially 4 years? Because as soon as shoes are worn and are no longer “dead stock” or “DS” their value decreases exponentially. Or simply, would be able to wear a pair of shoes that you knew were worth $2,500? 

The athletes at these schools make the gear they are given and seen wearing desirable. Brands know that,. Its why players are given these exclusive items in the first place. Nike, Adidas, and Under Armor use NCAA athletes as free advertising week in and week out. The Fab Five of Michigan are widely credited with popularizing the “black socks, black shoes, baggy shorts” look that was so prevalent in basketball in the 90s.

Nike even used “Fab Five Kicks” in their ad copy at the time. And yet, per the rules, those players weren’t allowed to make a dime off the fact they were revolutionizing basketball apparel. 

At the end of the day, these were not the first kids to sell PE shoes or merchandise. They won’t be the last. But they got caught and are paying the price for it. A price completely disproportionate to the crime. Maybe that’s because there was no real crime at all.

Andrew Mark Wilhelm is a professional Sound Engineer/Designer, and amateur photographer, writer, musician who recently relocated from California to Rochester, NY. Born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit has made Andrew an avid fan of all things Detroit but nothing more so than his beloved Detroit Tigers. Every year he tells himself he won't drink the Lions Kool-Aid, and every year winds up heartbroken come January. A Spartan by heart, and a Golden Grizzly by degree, you can catch his (almost) weekly Hot Takes every Hump Day here at The Turf.

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