Investigate the NCAA, Not Manziel

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Apparently the NCAA is investigating Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel in an attempt to determine if Manziel broke the NCAA's rules against profiting from his own efforts.

According to the NCAA, it's OK for Manziel and other top-tier athletes to take a few of the falling crumbs from the small-kids table; however, in no way should he be allowed to exploit his own talents and hard work. No, exploiting his dedication, focus, and hard work is strictly limited to the schools, NCAA and staff.

Instead of Manziel, schools and the NCAA should be investigated for their greediness and scheme to take everything they can from the students and give as little as possible back. It's downright immoral, and a national disgrace how the very faculty charged with advancing the education and quality of life of the students, have instead conspired against the students-athletes to pilfer the fruit of the athletes' labor.

You may still buy into the NCAA and college charade that Johnny Manziel is an amateur, and student-athletes are better off if they are free from the hindrance of money. There is another group of people claiming their workers shouldn't keep the money from their own work too, and they're called pimps. It's a total fraud claiming there are noble altruistic reasons for their exploitation of student-athletes.

"But they should play for the love of the game."

Of course, they love playing; they wouldn't have made it as far as they have if not. Regardless, shouldn't the athletes get a vote in their own future? Liking what you do isn't a valid reason why you shouldn't get paid.

If the schools were actually doing what they are supposed to do, namely provide the best life-long education they can, they wouldn't shackle the students; rather they would assist them in brand building. The schools know all about brand-building, albeit they're focused on building their own brands, not the students' brands.

If the schools were doing the right thing, they would organize marketing, business, and athletic students to work together in maximizing the revenue and learning experience for all students. There is a lot of money on the table, but in the minds of colleges, the students are there to serve, not to take anything off the table.

Don't kid yourself, Division I football and basketball aren't amateur sports. If you want to see amateur student-athletes, you can go to any little-league game and enjoy an amateur sports game. Amateur hour left the moment a TV station said, "Hey, I would like to pay you to broadcast the game" and someone said yes.

Even before the ink dried the game was changed. CBS ( CBS), Time Warner Cable ( TWC), News Corp ( NWS), and ESPN ( DIS) pay billions of dollars for broadcast rights. Nike ( NKE) gives the University of Minnesota $1 million a year worth of products including shoes, uniforms and golf balls for the privilege of having the Nike logo on uniforms.

The athletes actually wearing the logo receive almost nothing for implicitly endorsing the brands that they are required to wear? The students didn't change the game from amateur to professional, the schools did, so don't blame the students, they weren't even invited to the negotiating table.

"But the athletes are receiving a free education."

Yes, many of the Division I players are receiving a so-called "full ride," but that supports my case that they are not amateurs. They receive room, board, and whatever classes they manage to study between the grueling practice and game schedule.

If we agree athletes are receiving value for playing, we should all agree it's no longer little league or a hobby. And don't tell a student trying to live off-campus or eating a meal outside the dining hall that they are receiving a full ride.

Students have expenses beyond tuition and books, so let's dispense with the full ride fantasy while we're at it. The real question isn't if players offer value others are willing to pay for; it's a question of who receives the payment. Next time you're watching a college game on TV, look at all the people working, everyone but the players are receiving their fair share.

Donald Remy, the NCAA Chief Legal Officer wrote in response to a lawsuit brought on by players "...In particular, we would lose the very real opportunity for at least 96% of NCAA male and female student-athletes who do not compete in Division I men's basketball or FBS football to play a sport and get an education, as they do today." Intuitively this argument appears to have merit. After all, it's reasonable to theorize if colleges are forced to pay a fair share of money to the ones who drive the revenue; it's less money the school can use to pay for other programs.

First off, does anyone seriously believe at LEAST 96% of NCAA players will no longer get an education and play a sport? Maybe some that graduated from the same school as Remy believe him, but his statement hardly passes the smell test. An equivalent statement is "We want to withhold earnings of some student athletes at a rate of 96% and spend it as we deem appropriate".

If it's so beneficial to have college sports available, and I'm not saying it isn't, then everyone should pay for it, not just a few in the minority. Look at this issue from your own vantage point. How receptive are you towards losing 90% of your income to pay for someone else's recreational activities?

If you don't like the idea of keeping only 10 cents of every dollar you earn, how can you claim it's appropriate for someone else? This isn't any different than trying to justify the return of a 91% top tax rate

If you're not willing to pay a 91% tax rate on your earnings, you have no business advocating someone else should. It gets worse though, athletes injured while playing can't expect much more than a "too bad, so sad" note from the school. Athletes that may have previously brought in millions of dollars to their alma mater are on their own for future medical expenses and limitations.

Schools take as much as they can and let the athletes fend for themselves with head injuries, broken bones, back/joint pain, and other medical issues. The "free" education doesn't sound so free when you walk with a limp for the rest of your life.

For most of the athletes, their career in school is their only chance to reap the rewards of their efforts. They shouldn't be denied the opportunity to receive what they can, especially when everyone else already is.

At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Robert Weinstein is an active trader focusing on the psychological importance of risk mitigation, emotion and financial behavior of market participants. Robert co-founded the investing blog StockSaints, where he writes a journal about his trading activity and experiences.

In addition to TheStreet, Robert also contributes to Real Money Pro, providing real-time trading ideas for stocks, options and futures.

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