I’m not so sure athletes should reap the direct profits of jersey sales, but at the very least, bartering their own signatures on fan-owned memorabilia for a negotiated fee should be as much of an American right for amateur athletes as groupies and entourages.
The NCAA is not allowed to associate the jerseys it shops on its website to individual players and unlike in pro sports these jerseys don’t have player names on the backs, but ESPN college basketball analyst/NCAA critic/attorney Jay Bilas revealed an interesting feature on NCAA.com’s website recently. EA Sports’ propensity for using the likeness of players on its college football and basketball student-athletes for its video game series is well-known, but they also have been surreptitiously allowing player name searches to direct shoppers to jerseys that the player actually wears them. The NCAA has decided not to renew its contract with EA Sports, but they are still toeing a thin line.
According to SI.com’s Andy Staples, in a move that was copied straight from the Aaron Hernandez book on How To Look Guilty, that feature was quickly removed from NCAA.com soon after Bilas’ tweets gained some traction on social media. Bilas put the NCAA's double talk on blast via Twitter, but if someone did it in a court of law, all w be right with the amateur sports world again. The current Ed O’Bannon class-action suit isn’t pursuing players’ capitalist right to profit off of their own autographed memorabilia while in college, but if Manziel, AJ Green or Terrelle Pryor ever decide to fight for their right, this will be exhibit A and I think they may have found their lead attorney.