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Mark Emmert: NCAA Will Stop Selling Jerseys, Memorabilia

The Jay Bilas Effect? Following a downpour of controversy over a series of tweets by ESPN college basketball analyst Bilas on Tuesday, NCAA president Mark Emmert announced on a conference call today that the NCAA would no longer be in the sports memorabilia business.

“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.”

So that’s the latest domino to fall following Bilas’ Twitter broadside, in which he highlighted apparent NCAA hypocrisy by typing player names such as Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater into the NCAA Shop site’s search function, and getting examples of those players’ numbered jerseys.

The point being, if athletes are getting into trouble for allegedly selling their autographs and sports memorabilia, why is the NCAA at the same time profiting from it?

It’s a rare moment indeed when the NCAA not only admits hypocrisy (it immediately took down the search function on its web site following the Bilas tweets, and later from its mobile app), but an even rarer one when it physically does something about it.

My favorite Bilas tweet of the string, by the way, was this one:

I guess one could say that Bilas won the Internet this week.

Why it took a reporter’s Twitter feed to spark this decision is a mystery: other writers, and fans, have actually been pointing to this hypocrisy for years. Just one example is this 2011 post on Tauntr.com, showing a rack of game-worn football jerseys being sold at Boise State (photo above).

But in one way, Emmert and the NCAA totally win here. Many people were expecting the fallout from the Bilas tweets to be the beginning of the end of the current NCAA structure. If Emmert had ignored this, it may have been. But by admitting the hypocrisy and ending the merchandise sales, Emmert has actually strengthened the NCAA’s position.

Alex Rodriguez could actually learn a thing or two from this. By admitting your mistake and moving on, you take leverage away from your detractors and make people more inclined to forgive you. The NCAA has a lot bigger problems than A-Rod does, but in this case, Emmert played it smart.

Photos: Getty Images.

READ: Jay Bilas Made The NCAA Look So Stupid That They Had To Acknowledge It [SportsGrid]

  • Jay

    Many people bash the NCAA. And the idea of athletes making some compensation off their name/image/likeness seems like the right thing to do. But compensating athletes is a huge Pandora’s box that most don’t even acknowledge. Is it ok for boosters to pay outrageous money for an athlete/recruit autograph to entice them to play for their school? This would only further separate the schools with the richest donors from other schools. So eventually only a handful of schools can compete with each other for the best players. And how many athletes will actually benefit from being compensated for their name/likeness/image? Probably only the stars of the football and basketball teams.

    And if athletes start getting compensated in some way other than simply the “cost of attendance” stipend, they could then be considered professionals. They likely would unionize. Then workers comp issues come in to play. And what about future lawsuits over concussions?

    Colleges and universities will still have to abide by Title IX laws if they sponsor varsity sports. And the added costs for “professional” athletes will likely mean many sports will have to be cut in college athletics. Worst case – college athletics ends as we know it.

    The premise of compensating college athletes is just and valid, but this likely will lead to the end of opportunities of playing college sports for many hopeful athletes. And then fans and media will be left yearning for the “good old days” of college athletics when things were much simpler.

  • Ncrdbl1

    OK let’s do this. Give every athlete $1,000 a week as payment for their participation and their part of any merchandising. BUT Let’s also cut out ALL athletic scholarships, housing, food and books that they get from the schools. Have them pay their own way just as every other student does. By the end of their four years some will come up some $100,000 short compared to what they get currently in compensation.via scholarship, books and food and housing.

    But also do NOT allow any waivers on academic requirements to be admitted to school. Treat athletes exactly as we do ALL other students.

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