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Monday, January 19, 2004

Bloom to Confront NCAA Head-On: Jeremy Bloom, the University of Colorado wide receiver and Olympic freestyle skier, has decided to continue playing college football and accepting endorsements from his skiing, which is in direct violation of NCAA rules. Under the NCAA guidelines, an athlete may not accept endorsements, even if it is for a sport in which he does not compete collegiately. However, Bloom wishes to play college football as well as training for skiing, which requires endorsements to fund the expensive training. Bloom has filed suit against the NCAA, claiming the rules unjustly limit his right to pursue his skiing career.

Bloom has also spearheaded the California Senate Bill 193, titled the "Student Athlete Bill of Rights," discussed in this earlier post.

As I discuss in my forthcoming article in the Harvard Journal on Legislation, the NCAA must take steps to deal with this growing problem. While the organization must certainly preserve the importance of amateur athletics, it must also keep its rules from applying its rule in an arbitrary manner, regardless of the situation. There is little, if any, reason that Bloom's acceptance of skiing endorsements would jeopardize his amateur status as a college football player. The NCAA looks decidedly two-faced as it ups endorsement and television deals while preventing a tight end, who wants to play football merely for the love of the sport, from also pursuing his talent in a sport requiring financial support. Bloom's decision will force the NCAA to confront this dilemma, and hopefully, the organization's leadership will reach a compromise that protects amateur athletics, as well as the ability of its athletes to pursue outside goals.

Update: At least one writer thinks that Bloom is destined to fail "because the world is not always fair."


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