NCAA Football Odds Fans Won’t Be Able To Buy Players’ Jerseys Anymore

Posted by Alex Murphy on Thursday,August 13, 2015 1:22, EST in

During the 2014  season, if you were a College Football betting fan, you could more than likely buy a licensed jersey for your favorite team bearing a number for your favorite player. NCAA rules currently forbid selling jerseys that have players’ names on them, but if you know the number of that player you can still wear his jersey. However, while a federal judge is currently considering whether universities making profits from commercial use of the names, likenesses and images is fair, some teams have stopped selling team jerseys that have the numbers of popular players on them. Instead, they are using innocuous numbers.

Breaking Down Why NCAA Football Odds Fans Won’t Be Able To Buy Players’ Jerseys Anymore

For example, this year, if you want to buy an Ohio State jersey, once pre-existing inventory runs out, you will only be able to purchase jerseys with #1 or #15 on them, a nod to the year. They plan to continue that, offering jerseys with #1 and with the last two digits of the current year. You’ll be able to order a different number on a custom jersey, and you can put a name on it, but that name can’t be from a former or current player.

The Ed O’Bannon case, which challenged the right of colleges to profit from players’ images without compensation, is one reason behind this subtle shift. This past Friday, a federal appeals court granted a temporary stay of a ruling that had said NCAA rules against player compensation were in violation of antitrust law.

It’s true that the NCAA could still prevail in this battle. However, the whole imbroglio has prompted a debate about whether some commercialization of college sports has gone too far. Before the O’Bannon case, the NCAA had told its members that athletes did not have to sign any releases for the schools to use their likenesses to promote the schools.

Some Schools are Acting, Others are Acting Up

Several schools have started taking names and well-known numbers off jerseys in addition to Ohio State. Nebraska, Mississippi State have all adopted policies with similar provisions, as did Michigan. This policy marks a break with prior practice. However, the trend is spreading through conferences all over the NCAA. While there was some concern about linkage to the O’Bannon case, there was also the question as to whether the schools were taking advantage of a student-athlete in this way by selling their number and marketing their likeness even though that player was not able to make any money himself.

Some schools, such as USC and Oregon, do not plan to stop selling jerseys with well-known players’ numbers on them. They have talked to player families and found that the families want to see their relatives’ numbers out there for sale. Either way, the financial fortunes of the athletic departments should not shift much either way. Jersey sales are only about 5 percent of the whole apparel business in college. In the pros, that percentage jumps to 25 to 30. Why? College students have a lot of distractions – and less disposable cash on hand. As the NCAA continues to evolve in its relationship with its student-athletes, it will be interesting to see how memorabilia sales continue to shift.