The NCAA may forbid players from profiting off themselves but it seems the association is allowed to capitalize, ESPN analyst Jay Bilas discovered on Wednesday.
NCAA bylaws prohibit student-athletes from accepting money for promotion or sale of a product or service bearing their likeness, but the online shop ShopNCAAsports.com seems to be doing exactly that.
Bilas tweeted out a series of screen grabs from the NCAA site that showed a curious correlation between current student-athletes' names and jersey numbers.
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The NCAA is not allowed to sell a player's jersey with his or her name on the back, as that would be a blatant violation of its own rule. But, Bilas found, if a person types a popular college athlete's name into the search box on ShopNCAAsports.com, their jersey number will come up.
"They're selling their jerseys, pretending that it's some sort of coincidence that all the value is in the school name and there's no value in the player when just coincidentally, every time you see a jersey, it's the team's best player," Bilas told USA Today
. "It's not about need. It's about exploitation. Any time an entity or a person makes money off of another entity or person, while at the same time restricting that person or entity, that's exploitation. It's wrong to the point of being immoral when you really think about it."
The finding is even more hypocritical in light of the recent incident with Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, who is currently under NCAA investigation
after sources claimed he received thousands of dollars in exchange for autographs.
Ironically, when one types "Johnny Manziel" into the NCAA shop search, his No. 2 Texas jersey pops up and is the only one with lettering on the back: "Football," which, Bilas says, the NCAA would argue couldn’t possibly stand for the star quarterback's nickname, Johnny Football.
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