NCAA To Stop Selling Branded School Merchandise
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) will no longer sell merchandise for colleges and universities after being accused of engaging in hypocritical behavior. Last week, it was revealed that the association was using the likenesses of college athletes to sell jerseys and T-shirts, something the players themselves are prohibited from doing.
On August 7, ESPN analyst and former Duke basketball player Jay Bilas accused the NCAA of violating its own amateurism regulations, which state that college athletes must waive any rights to receive compensation for the use of the name, image or likeness in order to participate in collegiate sports. In a series of Tweets, Bilas pointed out that NCAA's online store allowed users to search by certain player names in order to find merchandise bearing that player's school and number. Since the NCAA requires athletes waive rights to their own images, the association does not need to share the proceeds, allowing it to profit on "a glaring double-standard."
After Bilas' posts went live, other websites started finding more merchandise for sale that seemed to violate the amateurism spirit put forth by the association. Larry Brown Sports found that the store was selling autographed photos of Reggie Bush, a former University of Southern California (USC) player who received a two-year ban and forfeited his Heisman Trophy after allegations that he violated the NCAA amateurism policies in question. Deadspin also found a T-shirt commemorating Joe Paterno's 400th win with Penn State, despite the NCAA's invalidating that victory when it vacated all of the school's wins from 1998 through 2011.
Amid the accusations, the NCAA removed the search function from its store last week, and on Friday ShopNCAAsports.com went offline entirely. (As of Monday, it redirects to a disclaimer on NCAA.com.) The NCAA later issued a statement saying it would no longer offer college apparel.
"Moving forward, the NCAA online shop will no longer offer college and university merchandise," the statement said. "In the coming days, the store's website will be shut down temporarily and reopen in a few weeks as a marketplace for NCAA championship merchandise only. After becoming aware of issues with the site, we determined the core function of the NCAA.com fan shop should not be to offer merchandise licensed by our member schools."
Mark Emmert, NCAA president, told the Washington Post on Thursday that the association's executives "certainly recognize why that could be seen as hypocritical indeed" and said it would exit the licensed college merchandise market immediately. The NCAA has said it will continue to sell NCAA-licensed products, although it provided no information about when its store will return online.
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