Missy Franklin: Student-Athlete

Missy Franklin, about to begin her senior year in high school, is a normal 17-year-old girl who can’t wait to begin her college search. She just so happens to be a world-record setting Olympic athlete; so naturally, the NCAA is going to penalize her for that.

The NCAA – champion of amateurism and the spirit of the “student-athlete” – monopolizes on multimillion dollar media contracts, licensing, corporate sponsorship, and all too often, athletes who don’t care to be students in the first place. See: “African-American Studies” scandal at UNC, “one-and-done”s at Kentucky and the like, and schools that put so little emphasis on academics that their programs fail to meet the standards for postseason play.

Now they have Missy Franklin, and quite honestly they should be drooling over her. A marketable and hugely successful athlete who wants the college experience. She anxiously awaits the recruiting process and actually wants to be a student-athlete. She has admitted she would forego her medal bonuses ($150K+) in order to achieve her dream of swimming collegiately.

I can go on and on about how NCAA athletes who put their blood, sweat, and tears into an on-the-field product that yields great returns for everyone but them should be compensated (at the very least, receive royalties for the jerseys, video games, etc from which others profit from their likeness), but I won’t. In this case, the decision should be far less murky.

Missy Franklin competed for her country. She didn’t hire an agent, she didn’t play in some professional league. By doing so, and doing so successfully, she earned over $150,000 in medal (4 gold and 1 bronze) bonuses. She shouldn’t have to give it up because the NCAA thinks it will make her any less of a student-athlete. That’s just twisted logic; and unfortunately, the sort of logic I have little doubt in prevailing.

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