Are College Sports a Modern-Day Plantation

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When 2012 Heisman Trophy winner and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was reprimanded for allegedly taking payment for signing autographs, the ensuing controversy reignited an age-old debate: Should college athletes be compensated? Manziel appeared on the cover of Time magazine under the headline "It's Time to Pay College Athletes."

But the way the controversy played out raised other issues. Manziel's punishment for the accusations he faced was a suspension from the first half of the team's first game of the 2013 season. Since other college athletes who were mired in compensation controversies in the past have fared worse, there were some who felt that Manziel, who is white, received a slap on the wrist, because of either his superstar status or his race or, perhaps, both.

Someone who does not believe this is Taylor Branch, the noted civil rights historian whose writing inspired the new documentary Schooled: The Price of College Sports, which premieres on Epix on Wednesday at 8 p.m.

In an interview with The Root, Branch posited that if anything, the NCAA might have felt compelled to go easier on Manziel not because of his race but because, if he had faced stiffer penalties, Manziel "would have nothing to lose" and might have represented the ideal lead plaintiff or advocate -- in part because he is a freshman, a Heisman Trophy winner and, yes, white -- to challenge the rules preventing college athletes from being compensated.

Read the full story at The Root