College Athletes Can Now Raise Money For Charity, And That's Big
It's been weird what's become acceptable to grieve during this coronavirus situation -- before things started spiraling so badly, people were getting real upset about losing March Madness, the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament. Now, even bringing it up seems like a case of misplaced priorities. And one thing we didn't miss about the NCAA is their dedication to making sure college athletes don't even know what a dollar bill even looks like.
The NCAA is built on making sure its athletes are really student athletes, and the word "student" always comes first. If you're a student-athlete at a school in the NCAA, you're forbidden from using your image and/or likeness to promote anything that might involve the exchange of money. And if you're Clemson University, seeing your star quarterback Trevor Lawrence promoting a GoFundMe that he and his girlfriend started for COVID-19 relief set off every red alert in the book.
Lawrence, a long-haired QB who looks a whole lot like Sunshine from Remember the Titans, was told by the compliance department at Clemson to take down the GoFundMe, and he, well, complied. And while this might have been a non-story 10+ years ago, we currently live in a time where social media goes off like wildfire and everyone is currently stuck at home with nothing to do but stare at Twitter. Lawrence started the GoFundMe on a Monday, and by Wednesday things had gotten back to the NCAA, which realized that this current time of crisis was not the time to look like Ebeneezer Scrooge. The NCAA issued a statement saying hey, no, we didn't tell Trevor to take it down, Clemson did. But the reality is that Clemson did so fearing the NCAA's wrath. Fortunately, the NCAA saw the light and created a waiver for college athletes to raise funds during this pandemic for relief.
This is a huge deal, because the NCAA is all about precedent. This is going to clear the way for student-athletes to use their image and likeness to promote charities, and it's only a matter of time before it becomes part of the case to allow student-athletes to get paid in some capacity. For a lot of college athletes, there's never going to be a better time to use their image/likeness. Lawrence probably has a prolific NFL career in front of him, but just as an example, the Notre Dame quarterback he faced in the College Football Playoff two years ago, Ian Book, probably does not. Book's time to shine would be now, while he's still in school and playing football.
For his part, Lawrence and his girlfriend are donating the nearly $2500 they'd already picked up from the GoFundMe to Meals On Wheels and No Kid Hungry, and you can donate to No Kid Hungry through a link that she provided on her Instagram here.