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Dr. Saturday

No, the SEC is not forcing players to sign away their likeness rights for playing time

Georgia's Marshall Morgan (13) walks off the field with John Theus (71) after defeating Tennessee 34-31 in overtime of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, in Knoxville, Tenn
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Georgia's Marshall Morgan (13) walks off the field with John Theus (71) after defeating Tennessee 34-31 in overtime of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

On Monday, Georgia offensive tackle John Theus took to Twitter to express his frustration with a form he claimed he was forced to sign in order to play for the Bulldogs.

Here’s a closer look at the form, which essentially grants permission for a player’s likeness to be used during broadcasts, media guides, programs, etc.

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Georgia OL John Theus tweet

Georgia OL John Theus tweet

But Theus’ tweet tells only half the story.

According to Herb Vincent, the SEC’s associate commissioner for communications, players don’t have to sign this document to play, only to have their likeness used.

“Student-athletes aren’t required to sign the SEC form to play,” Vincent said in an email. “They only have to sign it if they want to allow their picture and name to be used to promote the games, their school, and the conference. If they don’t want any publicity about their athletic achievements, though, its fine for them to decline to sign the form.”

Vincent said the form has been around for “five or six years” and that it clearly states on the form that players don’t have to sign it to be able to participate.

Georgia even sent us the form to show what Theus tweeted didn’t accurately depict the entire intent of the form.

SEC Policy SA Consent Form & Credentials, Ticket Restrictions and Agreements[3]

There’s no doubt with all the talk of how much major college football is currently making and the possibility of full cost-of-attendance scholarships on the table that players are getting a little antsy about getting their share.

However, this isn’t an instance where the SEC is trying to take advantage of its athletes or give them an ultimatum that forces them to give up their likeness for playing time. It’s just the SEC covering itself from lawsuits like the one led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, which is seeking compensation for the use of names, images and likenesses.

Can’t fault the SEC for that.

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Graham Watson is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at dr.saturday@ymail.com or follow her on Twitter!

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