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:
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) August 6, 2013
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]