Intercollegiate Student-Athlete Signed Memorabilia: Student-Athletes' Attitudes toward an Untapped Revenue Source

By Schneider, Raymond; McMillen, John | College Student Journal, June 2002 | Go to article overview

Intercollegiate Student-Athlete Signed Memorabilia: Student-Athletes' Attitudes toward an Untapped Revenue Source


Schneider, Raymond, McMillen, John, College Student Journal


The strengthening presence of corporate involvement in intercollegiate athletics has become an increasing concern for many involved in intercollegiate athletics. Central to the issue is raising the necessary funding while keeping with the amateur principles with which the NCAA was founded. Recently, student-athlete signed sports memorabilia has become extremely popular, with many memorabilia dealers profiting from the signatures of student-athletes.

The present study sought to determine the extent of the market for, and value of, student-athlete signed memorabilia. Additionally, this study sought to determine student-athletes' attitudes on signing items and preference to the beneficiary of revenue generated through the sale of their signed items. The findings of this study suggest that student-athletes are willing to sign sports memorabilia and support the athletic departments taking an active role in marketing these items. Student-athletes' expressed a desire to gain control over the use and re-sale of their signed items.

Introduction

Throughout the 1990's, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and a number of universities have increasingly relied upon corporate involvement in order to generate additional revenue. For example, CBS has agreed to pay the NCAA $6 billion through 2013 for the rights to televise the NCAA basketball tournament (Weiberg, 2001). As another example, the University of Michigan and Nike signed a seven-year, $7 million contract equipping all varsity athletic teams and providing $75,000 to the athletic department (Falls & Gerard, 1994).

Several scholars have addressed the issue of an increasing corporate presence in intercollegiate athletics. Sack (1988) discussed the Corporate Model of intercollegiate athletics as being over-commercialized and having professional attributes, which is contrary to the founding principles of the NCAA (NCAA Manual, 2001). Others have labeled this increased corporate presence as "corporate athleticism" (Hart-Nibbrig & Cottingham, 1986) and "corporate college sport" (Sack & Staurowsky, 1998). Ironically, while the NCAA and many universities have benefited financially from corporate involvement, student-athletes have not been allowed to capitalize on various opportunities for financial gain.

In order to be eligible to compete in NCAA intercollegiate athletic events a student must be an amateur and may not use his or her athletic skills for monetary remuneration in any form (NCAA Manual, 2001). With the emergence of a corporate presence providing tremendous amounts of revenue, combined with the current limitations to college student-athletes, many have proposed changes to NCAA bylaws (Byers, t998; Clement, Kelly, & Pedersen, 2000; Porto, 1995). The most frequently discussed issue surrounds the payment, in addition to an athletic scholarship, to intercollegiate student-athletes (DeVenzio, 1986; Sage, 1998; Sack & Staurowsky, 1998; Sheehan, 1996; Sperber, 1990). Primarily journalists have formulated the debate with a dearth of both scholarly research in this area and the direct opinions of student-athletes themselves. Sack (1988) reported that in a study conducted from 1983-1985, 69% of student-athletes surveyed believed they were adequately rewarded with an athletic scholarship. However, by 1997, Fish found that 85% of intercollegiate football players supported receiving additional compensation of $200 a month. In a more recent study, Schneider (2000) found that 87% of student-athletes believed student-athletes should receive compensation beyond an athletic scholarship. Furthermore, Schneider (2000) reported the most often advanced supporting argument from student-athletes included the fact that the university, administrators, coaches, and others make a profit while student-athlete compensation was limited to an athletic scholarship. A majority of respondents (87%) also expressed concern of increasing values of sport memorabilia associated with their signature, loss of control over signed items, and the amount of revenue autographed merchandise generates. …

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