A number of top basketball players around the country may have to deal with some amateurism questions as Stack.com, the website for a magazine geared towards athletic training, posted a number of videos using the players to promote a new basketball shoe from ADIDAS.
The kids involved -- Providence commit Kris Dunn, Baylor commit Isaiah Austin, Texas commit Javan Felix, and Kentucky commit Archie Goodwin from the Class of 2012; Elijah Brown from the Class of 2013; and the teams from St. Xavier and Archbishop Moeller in Cincinnati. You can find all the videos here. (UPDATE: It looks like the videos have been taken down. If anyone has a link to the video, PLEASE send it our way. Contactbiah at gmail dot com.)
As you can imagine, this may be an issue for high school kids. They aren't supposed to be endorsing products. And while we can argue all day about whether or not its fair that these kids are unable to capitalize off of their notoriety and basketball ability, the fact of the matter is that the current rules strictly forbid it. It's essentially the opposite of amateurism. (So is the NCAA, but that's a different post for a different day.)
But the biggest issue deals with the biggest player involved -- UConn freshman Andre Drummond. One of the videos featured him and Dunn. The Norwich Bulletin pulled a couple of quotes before the videos were pulled:
In the video, Dunn, while holding a shoe, says, “I like to run up and down the court and with these shoes I’d probably run faster, make better decisions out there. If you get more speed, you can see things quicker.”This is NCAA Bylaw 220.127.116.11 in full, which deals with a high school player who was involved in an advertisement or a promotion:
Drummond looks into the camera and says, “I want them.”
If an individual accepts remuneration for or permits the use of his or her name or picture to advertise or promote the sale or use of a commercial product or service prior to enrollment in a member institution, continued remuneration for the use of the individual's name or picture (under the same or similar circumstances) after enrollment is permitted without jeopardizing his or her eligibility to participate in intercollegiate athletics only if all of the following conditions apply:
(a) The individual's involvement in this type of activity was initiated prior to his or her enrollment in a member institution;
(b) The individual became involved in such activities for reasons independent of athletics ability;
(c) No reference is made in these activities to the individual's name or involvement in intercollegiate athletics;
(d) The individual does not endorse the commercial product; and
(e) The individual's remuneration under such circumstances is at a rate commensurate with the individual's skills and experience as a model or performer and is not based in any way upon the individual's athletics ability or reputation.
Not a single one of the player's listed above qualifies beyond the first condition. But for the kids still in high school, the fact that the videos have been scrubbed from the web should limit NCAA issues as long as they weren't paid.
Drummond will face more serious questions, however, since he is currently enrolled at UConn. Bylaw 18.104.22.168 specifically states that a player is immediately ineligible if he "Accepts any remuneration for or permits the use of his name or picture to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind." According to the article from the Norwich Bulletin, it doesn't matter whether or not the video was posted prior to Drummond's enrollment at UConn. The fact that it was still in circulation when he finally did enroll means that he is ineligible and will have to apply for reinstatement.
Stay tuned. We'll update this as we get more information.
UPDATE: UConn has commented on the matter.
"UConn was made aware of the video in question late this afternoon and has reviewed it," the school said in a statement. "Our compliance staff is comfortable that the video was made in advance of Andre’s enrollment at UConn. Our next step is to simply follow up with the website on which it is posted and ask that it be removed, which we have already done."
Gavin Keefe of the New London Day spoke with UConn's SID Kyle Muncy about the video.
"Obviously, every case is treated on a case by case basis," Muncy told Keefe. "It wouldn't be exaggerating to say we dealt with this identical situation eight to 10 times last year and never had any athlete lose eligibility. ... We will inform the NCAA what the issue was and they’ll review it. We anticipate everything will be fine ... There's not any concern."