Core Values

By Bill Prachar,

If you read the sports pages, listen to sports talk radio, or for that matter just read or watch
the regular news, you know a few too many star athletes, both pro and collegiate, are making
headlines for the wrong reason — not complying with law or the rules of their own sport.

With respect to the baseball suspensions for illegal use of performance enhancing drugs,
there are few defenders (at least publicly) of anyone using PEDs. The stories concerning
college players taking money in violation of NCAA rules are a bit more complicated, and
controversial, but there still may be an underlying lesson for all of us.

Unfortunately the poster child for the latest college “scandal” is last year’s Heisman Trophy
winner, Johnny Manziel, better known as Johnny Football. Manziel is accused of signing
hundreds of autographs for brokers who subsequently sold them online. If Manziel took money
in exchange for his autographs, and that is the claim being made, then he violated an NCAA
rule that states that collegiate athletes are not allowed to accept money for promoting or
advertising the commercial sale of a product or service.

As I write this column, I want to be clear that I don’t know the facts. It’s possible Manziel did
nothing wrong under NCAA rules. Almost all the commentators on ESPN, Fox Sports and
sports talk radio think the NCAA amateurism rules are outdated and unfair. They think
colleges are profiting from football and basketball and players also ought to be able to
cash in on their own fame (at least a little).

Most argue that Johnny is the victim of an unfair system and that the rules should change.
But here’s the thing — it’s not the way it is now. There is a rule and the compliance officers
at virtually every major university explain the rules ad nauseam to their athletes. Johnny Football,
and every other college athlete, has to comply — like it or not.

There are plenty of rules we have to follow as employees of WM. There are laws and company
regulations that may even seem silly. Usually this is because we don’t fully understand that there
are good reasons for the rules, but nonetheless we all know there are some that just don’t make
sense. But even if we don’t like a rule, or think it is not very important, or even wrong, we just can’t
decide to ignore it. Johnny’s decision, if wrong, will reflect on himself, his teammates, and a great
University, Texas A&M. In the same way, if we violate a rule it reflects on ourselves, our colleagues
and WM.

Johnny’s lesson for all of us — leave fixing rules we don’t agree with to our legal department.
Our job is simple — just comply.