Dick Harmon: Jimmer Fredette talks about Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, whether student-athletes should be paid

Published: Saturday, Sept. 7 2013 8:47 a.m. MDT

Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel (2) celebrates a touchdown with teammate Ben Malena (1) during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Rice, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013, in College Station, Texas.

Eric Gay, AP

PROVO — Johnny Football, the subject of college athletes making money off their own images, what Jimmer Fredette thinks about it, and this week’s gridiron predictions complete a weekend potpourri of sports fodder.

It is time to pay college players? Especially when the NCAA and universities are raking in billions of dollars off their labor and images?

The NCAA went after Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel fairly quickly when reports surfaced that he’d sold autographs for money. So, what does Jimmer think? A lot of people, including the NCAA, the MWC and BYU, made a gob of money off his image and No. 32 BYU jersey while he received only a free education.

Fredette was in Provo Friday, hosting his first "Jimmerosity" golf charity tournament at Riverside Country Club. The event drew plenty of BYU football faces, including quarterbacks Mark Giles, Paul Shoemaker, Bob Jensen, John Beck and Robbie Bosco.

“You always hear about it, but it (players making money) didn’t affect me that much," said Fredette. "My freshman year I didn’t have a ton of money, but that’s just what college kids go through. That’s what makes you work hard to get to the professional ranks.”

Fredette admits high-profile athletes in college are put in a “sticky situation” and some look for ways around the rules.

“It will be interesting to see what happens. I honestly don’t know what they should do — keep it as it is or move forward and start paying athletes.”

And Manziel?

“I can relate because he’s had a lot of hype, even more than I had. Every move he makes, he’s under a microscope and that’s kind of the way it is for some and you have to do the best you can and obey the rules, what are the rules are right now. But it does bring up the fact the rules might need to be changed. Schools are making a ton of money off athletes right now.”

Some blue-ribbon universities have discussed making a fourth division in college football and paying athletes a salary.

Meanwhile, Fredette had Utah Gov. Gary Herbert on the first tee Friday to kick off the Fredette Family Foundation charity event.

Fredette said he’s taken to the game of golf and loves it. He says it gives him a quality break from all the things he has to deal with during the season. That his charity, the Fredette Family Foundation, is raising money for schoolchildren, and using golf to do so, is fine with him.

“I had done one other golf thing at Pebble Beach and I’ve really come to like golf and it’s an awesome experience to have the governor come out today and hopefully we can keep it going. ... 'Families helping families' is our motto. We’ve done things for anti-bullying, Special Olympics and cash for kids, helping school districts with school lunch for kids who can’t afford it.”

“We’ve seen some great stories and things are happening with children,” said Fredette's father Al, who was on hand with his other two children Lindsay and TJ, and Jimmer’s wife Whitney.

“It’s the best experience,” said Jimmer. “I know I wouldn’t be in this position to help today if it wasn’t for basketball, but it is more about what happens on the court; it is what life is all about, not basketball skills but helping others, being kind and gracious and helping others. Hopefully it will continue and it will be successful."

Fredette leaves next week for the Sacramento Kings’ preseason camp. He claims he is better, stronger and has improved his game. “I’m looking forward to some new faces on the team with a new owner and coach and there still may be some moves before the season starts. Things are moving forward.”

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