Crowdfunding has become the popular method of collecting a few funds from a lot of people for a cause that probably would otherwise never become popular. It has certainly changed some lives, as is evidenced by the most recent crowdfunding effort for Oklahoma SAE’s recently unemployed house cook. In this case, I believe it is a cause that everyone supports.
Crowdfunding has also expanded into some murky areas. One such realm is the payment of college athletes in order to encourage them to return to school. I’m not going to be the guy who pretends that a little cheddar may slip into a star athlete’s hands a short time before he is legally allowed to possess such cheese, but with a new site aimed at quite literally bribing athletes with large donations, a new ballgame has emerged.
The concept of FanAngel is simple. Fans have the ability to donate some change to their favorite athlete in what could turn out to be a fruitless attempt at “encouraging” him to stay in school. Should he choose to remain in school, the site will hold onto the donation and present it to the athlete once his eligibility has expired. After taking a 9 percent fee for itself, the site gives divides the rest like this: 80 percent to the athlete, 10 percent to his teammates, and 10 percent to charity.
The entire idea seems sketchy, and it could possibly be an NCAA team’s worst nightmare in development, but the site’s founder, Shawn Fojtik, claims everything is kosher.
But Fojtik said his site steers clear of all NCAA guidelines.
“There’s no acceptance on the athlete’s part, and we aren’t specifically promoting any athletes,” he said. “We are using their name as anyone would as part of fair use.”
Fojtik acknowledged that he met with the NCAA and said he incorporated some of the ideas from that discussion, but the organization is not supportive of the model.
“We have a lot in common with them,” Fojtik said. “We want the same thing as them — for kids to stay in school, to end the one-and-dones or the ‘two-and-throughs.’ But we aren’t a constituent of theirs, so we’re not subject to their rules.”
Here is the ESPN video report on the new site.
It’s an interesting idea, but there isn’t a chance in hell this goes off without a hitch..