The NCAA isn’t planning a going-out-of-business sale, but it’s exiting the jersey-selling business.
Less than a week after ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas launched a series of Twitter posts that depicted the football and basketball jerseys of specific college athletes being sold through the NCAA Shop website, NCAA president Mark Emmert said the sales would end.
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“There’s no compelling reason the NCAA should essentially be reselling paraphernalia from institutions,” Emmert said on a conference call Thursday. “I can’t speak to why we entered into that enterprise, but it’s not appropriate for us, and we’re going to exit it immdiately.”
The NCAA is defending itself in a lawsuit filed on behalf of former athletes who are asking for compensation for the use of their likenesses on NCAA-approved merchandise, like video games and, yes, jerseys. The NCAA has claimed in the lawsuit, whose lead plaintiff is Ed O’Bannon, that images of the players on the video games and jersey numbers aren’t specific to individual athletes.
On Tuesday, Bilas used the search function on the NCAA’s merchandise site, ShopNCAASports.com, typing in names of current college athletes such as Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd. The search result produced several styles of replica jerseys, with their numbers but without their names, for sale.
Also found for sale on the NCAA site was an autographed photo by former Southern California running back Reggie Bush, the central figure in an NCAA investigation that resulted in severe sanctions against the Trojans and Bush surrendering his Heisman Trophy.
Also for sale in the NCAA online store: videos of Penn State football victories that were vacated by the NCAA because of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.
“We recognize why that could be seen as hypocritical,” Emmert said.
Individual schools can continue to sell jerseys that feature numbers of current and former players but not their names. The NCAA, in a news release, said its store’s website would shut down temporarily and be reopened in a few weeks with only NCAA-branded merchandise for sale.