A big bright nasty light has been shining on the NCAA in recent months over the way teams have capitalized on the names and likenesses of players without sending any of that money on to the players themselves. A recent $40 million settlement with EA sports over the use of player likenesses in video games may have spurred a new decision by several schools to only offer generic jerseys rather than ones that feature the numbers and names of popular players.
According to Darren Rovell, Texas A&M, Northwestern and Arizona will all be going the non-player-specific jersey route from now on. Rovell says A&M’s jerseys will all feature #12, in honor of “The 12th Man.” Northwestern’s jerseys will all have #51 in honor of coach Pat Fitzgerald, who wore 51 when he played. Arizona will go with #14 for 2014.
This decision may also have partly been inspired by a massive Twitter rant by Jay Bilas where he shamed schools by posting links to online shops where jerseys with player names could be purchased.
Clearly, these schools want to get out ahead of things if any more lawsuits should be coming down the line over player likenesses. It’s interesting that Northwestern would be one of the schools leading the way in this, after the effort earlier this year by Northwestern players to form a union. Texas A&M is also in a unique position after all the money they have made by capitalizing on the fame of Johnny Manziel.
It certainly seems like the worm is slowly turning when it comes to schools profiting from players.