Written by Eric Jackson
A business partnership between the VSU athletic department and Jostens Inc. has left many members of the recently crowned national champion football team feeling bitter.
VSU Athletics and Jostens Inc. are offering the public the opportunity to purchase several different memorabilia jewelry items, including an authentic Division II national championship ring.
The ring available to the public, priced at $500, is identical to the ring the players earned for their successful season.
The majority of the team is less than pleased with the newly offered merchandise.
“People are going to have rings on that we earned and the whole football team [doesn’t] really think that it’s fair,” safety Chris Caspari said. “You got some people walking around who don’t even come to a football game and just buy a ring just showing it off when really they didn’t earn that. Honestly, I don’t think they should be for sale but I think they should raise the price so no one wants to buy one. You can take away a ring but you can never take away the satisfaction of winning it.”
Though this isn’t the first time individuals outside of cheerleaders and band members have been be able to acquire championship team rings, no other VSU championship winning team has ever had their prized jewelry so publicized.
Several advertisements for the national championship jewelry can be found in noticeable places including in a mass email sent to students and faculty last week from event services.
Numerous former and current players voiced their opinions on Twitter.
One player tweeted “Its a slap in the face if you ask me,” while another tweeted “yall didn’t earn that shit.”
Athletic Director Herb Reinhard believes that the disgruntled players aren’t fully aware of the financial realities of the situation.
“There is a misunderstanding that when the University wins a national championship that there are dollars that come with that national championship in order to purchase national championship rings,” Reinhard said. “That is not the case. Those monies have to be generated and we’re very pleased to be able to provide national championship rings for the football players, trainers, equipment managers, the coaches and everybody on the list but it’s an extremely expensive undertaking.”
This substantial needed revenue is higher for the football program than for the championship softball and tennis teams simply because they’re more people involved with the football team, and thus more rings ordered.
Despite championship team rings not being so publicized before, the athletic department will probably look to do the same for future champions.
“I understand what some of our student-athletes are saying,” Reinhard said. “I hear what they’re saying. At the same time, they don’t have any reason to understand the realities around having to generate revenue to buy the things we have to buy.”
Head Coach David Dean grasps the financial aspect of the situation. Nonetheless, he agrees with his irritated players that the team ring is a “priceless” item.
“I like the fact that we’re trying to sell a lot of memorabilia but the actual ring, I can understand why they’re upset about that,” Dean said. “If they sold another ring that was different that said national champions, I think it would be a little different; they would understand that. The accomplishments and all the weight room work, the practices in the heat in a hundred degree weather in the summer, they look back on that and say this is something we deserve nobody else should have the same thing we have.”