clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

To the NCAA, Kyler Murray getting paid isn’t the same as most athletes getting paid

The NCAA lets players get paid in one sport while playing another in college.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma Spring Game Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Before the 2017 season, UCF ruled kicker Donald De La Haye ineligible, citing NCAA rules. De La Haye’s crime was having a monetized YouTube channel that drew in some part on whatever minimal fame he garnered as a special-teamer for a Group of 5 football team (read: not much). In UCF’s and the NCAA’s eyes, De La Haye running ads against videos that related at all to his football career was a violation. His career ended. He’s since sued UCF.

On Wednesday, news broke that Oklahoma quarterback and outfielder Kyler Murray — the ninth overall pick in the MLB Draft by the A’s — had agreed to a roughly $5 million contract that allows him to play football for the Sooners for one year.

Now that Murray is continuing to play college sports despite getting millions of dollars for sports reasons, De La Haye wondered about his own career:

Murray has the rulebook with him, and De La Haye doesn’t.

De La Haye’s anger is understandable. The NCAA’s rules that prevent players from making money off their own names, for their own athletic achievements, are bad and unfair.

But within the context of the NCAA’s bad rules, it has a few (relatively) good ones. One of them permits professional athletes in one sport to keep playing in college in another:

A professional athlete in one sport may represent a member institution in a different sport and may receive institutional financial assistance in the second sport.

So Murray, at around a $5 million bonus, will make nearly $2 million more this year than his head coach on the OU football team, Lincoln Riley. Murray’s Sooner baseball career is done, because in that sport, he’s now a professional, and professionals can’t play in the NCAA.

At least one other high baseball pick in the last decade has gotten an arrangement similar to the one Murray now has with the A’s. Rockies first-round pick and Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker played a season of football after Colorado gave him a $1.3 million bonus in 2010.

The rules should change to let more athletes have more money and chances.

Most college athletes in one sport don’t have the option to make millions playing another. It’s great that Murray can spend this fall playing football. Maybe it also makes a point that being a rich and famous athlete shouldn’t be incompatible with college sports in general.