ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas started a Twitter fire storm Tuesday afternoon when he began tweeting screen shots of ShopNCAAsports.com searches.
The first of Bilas’ tweets was for a “Manziel” search, which displayed several No. 2, Texas A&M football jerseys like the one worn by Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel.
He followed that up with several more, including searches for “Denard Robinson,” the former Michigan quarterback; “Marqise Lee,” USC’s star wide receiver; and “Tyran (sic) Mathieu,” the former LSU defensive back and Heisman Trophy finalist who was dismissed from the team just before the 2012 season.
Shortly after Bilas started tweeting the screen shots, “ShopNCAAsports.com” disabled its search function.
But I thought it was interesting, so I tested the searches out on the official online OU athletics shop.
When I searched for “Blake Bell,” eight results were displayed, the first six of which were No. 10 football jerseys. The items don’t have Bell’s name on them.
I tried several searching for several more OU football players, but none yielded the same results.
On Oklahoma State’s official team site, most player searches also come up empty, with the exception of “Jeremy Smith,” which displays a ladies No. 31 football jersey. Smith, a senior running back, wears jersey No. 31.
The NCAA and its member universities have long insisted that they don’t profit off the likenesses of their amateur student-athletes.
Currently, the NCAA and video-game giant EA Sports are embroiled in a lawsuit filed by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon, who argues that the two bodies have profited from college athlete’s likenesses in video games.
Asked about the issue at Big 12 Media Days last month, Oklahoma senior center Gabe Ikard said he’s always thought it was unfair to skill-position players, whose jerseys are sold without names, but with the right numbers.
“For skill guys who are having their jerseys sold in the bookstore … Coach Stoops always says somebody were that jersey before you,” Ikard said. “Well, that year they’re buying for that guy. The fact that everyone knows whose jersey that is and that don’t receive any revenue from that, I always thought that was interesting as a player.”