The NCAA Division I Board of Directors held a teleconference to discuss some of the possible changes the organization is considering for the future. There very well could be a change in which Division I is governed, with the goal being for larger schools (and conferences) to not have to deal with pushback from members who don’t play football at the FBS level when it comes to new rules.
Those discussions will continue in January, with a possible vote coming in August, so it remains to be seen what the powers that be ultimately do. But this wasn’t the portion of the NCAA teleconference that received the most attention.
The subject: the sale of jerseys and memorabilia associated with individual players in the NCAA’s official online store.
This came to the forefront earlier this week when lawyer and ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas had some fun with the shop’s search engine. Type in the name of a famous player, and up would pop various jersey and memorabilia options associated with said player. This, of course, sparked an uproar that NCAA President Mark Emmert ultimately had to acknowledge during the question/answer portion of the teleconference.
“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 immediately.”
President Emmert even acknowledged the fact that critics could very well see the fact that the governing body can make money off of individual players but the players themselves can’t as being hypocritical. So now, in addition to the search option being disabled you won’t see those jerseys (or memorabilia) available in the NCAA’s official store.
How much good will this decision do? For one the NCAA doesn’t control the store itself (according to Emmert), and it doesn’t stop schools (or other merchandising sites) from selling the jerseys and memorabilia in question. So while the gesture may seem like an acknowledgement of the hypocrisy that many see in all of this, people shouldn’t see this as a landmark change either.
If anything, these last few days should be seen as a positive development for the plaintiffs in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA, EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Corporation (CLC).