For some reason, people like buying things that famous people have signed. While this may be strange to some, and pointless to others (including this writer), the autographed memorabilia industry continues to thrive.
Selling such merchandise isn’t illegal, neither by NCAA rules nor in a court of law. For instance, the football pictured is a football signed by current Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, who still has eligibility remaining at Auburn. According to its website, the company selling the product, Score Memorabilia, obtained the signed football “in-person and witnessed by a authorized agent.” Marshall can’t receive compensation for the sale of the item he signed, but the seller can sell the item for the current price of $296.10.
What was the motivation of Nick Marshall to sign this item for this agent, whom he met in-person, giving this person the opportunity to sell it for three bills while he made nothing?
Out of the goodness of his heart, obviously.
Or if you want a helmet, you can get one here. They have footballs too, though ioffer.com’s price of $359 is higher than Score Memorabilia’s.
Or heck, you want the entire team’s signatures on a helmet, many of whom still have plenty of eligibility left? Just buy it off Ebay here. Here’s a mini-helmet Marshall signed for the much more reasonable price of $69.99. Or you can get a signed 8×10 of Marshall from Vice Authentics for just $44.99.
Have enough Nick Marshall stuff? Get a Sammie Coates glossy for just $25.99.
You can even get a football signed by former Auburn runningback Tre Mason here for $99.99. He’s even shown signing it so you know it’s real. But we know and understand he didn’t receive anything in return while still an Auburn player.
Want to make a wall of memories for Auburn’s magical 2013 season? What better way than to get a signed custom “rookie card” from one of the magicians himself, Ricardo Louis? Or how about a print signed by current Tiger runningback, Cameron Artis Payne? Or get one of Auburn linebacker Kris Frost tackling Johnny Football here for $44.99.
All the players mentioned but Mason have eligibility remaining, so receiving compensation for this signed material would result in NCAA rules violations. But to date there is no proof that this has taken place. And with an NCAA not exactly burning up the roads in trying to head merchandise peddling off, if you want to see a school get in trouble for it, don’t get your hopes up. Last summer the NCAA had Johnny Manziel dead to rights, signing literally thousands of items for a total stranger, yet did absolutely nothing to he or Texas A&M.
Alabama has had its share of merchandise sellers as well. If you want to see this in motion, go to fan day in Tuscaloosa this August. It’s ridiculous. Players and coaches sign scores of helmets, pictures, footballs and other items with no idea where they will end up.
I have a friend who’s an autograph hound who hits the Senior Bowl every year. The lengths some of these autograph brokers will go to to get a signature is unreal. It’s downright shocking, truthfully. Putting children in lines with a football in-hand…a football soon to be sold on eBay or a memorabilia store.
Schools have to protect themselves with this jungle of signed memorabilia activity going on. Thankfully Alabama has one of if not the strongest compliance departments in America. With heightened interest in the Bama program in recent years, both from Alabama fans and beyond, it has to. As Alabama athletics department director Bill Battle said just yesterday:
“As part of our ongoing compliance efforts, our compliance department looks into everything that warrants concern. That effort is diligent and all-encompassing, and requires constant communication and education regarding all potential issues.”
And all agree, Bama’s compliance is the best. So much so that when a headline hungry whore seeking clicks for his cheap website made allegations two years ago about a store in Tuscaloosa selling merchandise signed by current Tide players, the Tide compliance department was all over it. Neither the NCAA nor the SEC came calling, because Alabama dealt with the issue and disassociated the individual in question, some seven months before the story came to be.
Why there is a market for this stuff, I can’t tell you. But I can tell you, it’s neither illegal for a player to sign something to be sold, nor for the indvidual selling it to make money off of a signed item he receives…nor for the player to visit the store or even have his picture made with the person selling it. The only illegality from an NCAA standpoint comes from the player receiving compensation for signing it.
So did Nick Marshall get paid for the throngs of autographed memorabilia available to you right this second with a few clicks of your mouse? Possibly. But maybe not.
What is certain though is that proving it is much harder than writing a column about a store that’s open to the public to garner interest in your cheap writing career. Or that rival fans with no lives will continually wish upon a star in hopes that the object of their loathing will finally get theirs.
But hey, that’s what the off-season is for, right?