Sports Law Blog
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Sunday, January 24, 2010
Is Bowl Swag Appropriate for Schools in Final BCS Standings?
David Grant of the Christian Science Monitor recently wondered why NCAA student-athletes can receive gifts worth up to $500 if they are able to play in Bowl Games, but during the season those same players are much more restricted in what they can receive because of their student-athlete status.
Here are some excerpts from David's story:
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During the majority of their college football careers, players at the football powerhouses populating the final BCS standings have to eschew free stuff.
They do so because getting untoward benefits as student athletes can jeopardize their future eligibility to run, block, and tackle and, by extension, their opportunity to reap a bigger future payday in the NFL. (And forget sponsorships. College athletes lose their ability to take the field by entering into corporate pacts.)
But during bowl season, game organizers shower these same athletes with up to $500 in free merchandise that athletes then wear and use on campuses across the country, giving brand names a boost in the process. What happens at a bowl gift party that makes it any different from the other 364 days a year?
"When players come down to these bowl games, you don’t want to just lock ‘em in the hotel room," says Geoffrey Rapp, a law professor at the University of Toledo who contributes to the Sports Law blog. "Part of the fun is going some place warmer, getting to to go Disney land, and if there was a strict ban on any contributions or any value given to players, you’d have to be very vigilant on your players. But that said, iPods and PlayStation 3's and other electronics seems to be a bit inconsistent with the spirit of the NCAA rules."* * *
But the financial-aid restriction is a blanket one, whereas the prohibition on free gets lifted for a glimmering moment during bowl season.
"On one level, it’s good that players are getting something for all they are contributing to the school," says Michael McCann, a law professor at Vermont Law School who studies sports law. "But it invites the question of why this is an exception and where should you draw the line. Should there even be a line?"
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