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NCAA Halts Sales of Team-Related Merchandise on its Website

Posted in Sports Business and the Law

This guest post is authored by Tamarra J. Holmes.  Tamarra is an associate in our Litigation practice, resident in the Princeton, NJ office.  She can be reached at tholmes@foxrothschild.com.


The NCAA announced on Thursday, August 8, that it would no longer sell team-related merchandise through its website, ShopNCAASports.com.

The revelation came after ESPN analyst, Jay Bilas announced via Twitter that the site provided the functionality to search for gear by using a student-athlete’s name. Bilas’ twitter account even had screen shots of the website which displayed the football jersey of suspended athlete, Tyran Mathieu. There were also basketball jerseys available for purchase by searching for former UCLA Bruins basketball star, Shabazz Muhammad, who was recently dismissed from the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program.

The announcement comes as a surprise to many who believe the NCAA is behaving poorly considering its policy of not allowing student athletes to benefit from the sale of merchandise using their name and/or likeness. Players are not allowed to profit from their names, however, a simple search for stand-out athlete’s names on the NCAA’s site brings up merchandise selling for up to $180.

The NCAA is reportedly investigating Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel for profiting off of his autograph. Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner who is known by the name “Johnny Football” took steps to trademark the phrase to prevent others from selling merchandise using the phrase. He intends to use the trademark when he turns pro. If the NCAA investigation finds that Manziel violated the NCAA’s rules he could be ruled ineligible to continue playing college football. If Manziel plays any games at A&M and is then subsequently ruled ineligible the school must forfeit any wins. Obviously Texas A&M and the NCAA stand to lose quite a bit of profit by disqualifying one of its most electric stars. Oddly, the Texas A&M booster club was able to sell tickets to the team’s kickoff dinner for a six-person table for $20,000. One of the six guests, Mr. Johnny Football ™ himself.