NCAA will no longer sell athlete memorabilia
by Dan Wolken, USA TODAY Sports
NCAA president Mark Emmert said on a conference call Thursday that the e-commerce site ShopNCAASports.com, which was at the center of a Twitter controversy earlier this week led by college basketball commentator Jay Bilas, would no longer sell team-related merchandise.
“There’s no compelling reason the NCAA should essentially be re-selling paraphernalia from institutions,” Emmert said. “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.”
The online NCAA shop, which is copyrighted by Fanatics Retail Group, drew significant attention this week when Bilas typed names of college athletes such as Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd into the site’s search function and got the replica jerseys of those players to come up.
USA TODAY Sports found the same thing could be done when Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller and Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray’s names were typed into the search box as well. You could even plug in former Buckeyes quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who was suspended in 2011 after selling his own memorabilia, and his old OSU jersey would appear.
Though the site is copyrighted by Fanatics Retail Group, it is branded with the NCAA’s official logo and links prominently to NCAA.com, the NCAA’s commercial web site.
The NCAA is currently fighting multiple lawsuits regarding the name and likeness of college athletes. One of its co-defendants in one case, Collegiate Licensing Co., has denied the link between an athlete’s jersey and number and their individual likeness. On Monday lawyers for CLC wrote, that the firm denies “that it has allowed former players’ indicia of identity to be utilized in connection with sales of replica and actual jerseys and other apparel offered for sale” and that “CLC denies that uniform numbers are ‘indicia of identity’ for student-athletes.”
Emmert said he understood how attaching the NCAA’s name to a commercial enterprise that trades in replica jerseys could be seen as hypocritical. “I think the business of having the NCAA sell those kind of goods is a mistake,” he said.
Emmert said his understanding was that the NCAA itself … [For more on NCAA will cease role in sales of athlete memorabilia, click here.]