Student Well-Being

Olympian Missy Franklin Torn Between Choosing College or Career

By Bryan Toporek — August 15, 2012 1 min read
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What do you do for an encore after winning four Olympic gold medals and a bronze?

If you’re Missy Franklin, you head back to high school.

In the next few weeks, the 17-year-old Franklin will begin her senior year at Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora, Colo., which set up a Web page to track her Olympic success this summer.

After that? The future remains undetermined for Franklin, due to one major consideration: endorsement money.

If Franklin decides to swim at the collegiate level, she’ll be barred from accepting potentially millions in endorsements because of National Collegiate Athletic Association rules. She already bypassed upwards of a half-million in endorsements before the 2012 Olympics, according to ESPN sports-business reporter Darren Rovell.

The U.S. Olympics Committee “Operation Gold” program, which awarded $25,000 to U.S. American Olympians who won gold medals in London, $15,000 for silver medals, and $10,000 for bronze medals, also caused an amateurism headache for the NCAA, as the Sports Law Blog has detailed.

Long story short: Franklin was allowed to bank medal-related bonuses totaling at least $200,000 while maintaining her amateur status, according to NCAA bylaws, but accepting a $50,000 bonus for setting the world record in the 200-meter backstroke would have caused her to lose her amateurism.

Confused? You’re not the only one.

“It’s definitely been hard turning down some money,” Franklin told

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Schooled in Sports blog.