LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- ESPN analyst Jay Bilas remains a practicing attorney. This little piece of research, however, was pro bono.
When he heard what the NCAA, and in particular Collegiate Licensing Company, a corporate partner, had said in a legal filing in advance of the federal antitrust lawsuit against it brought by former UCLA star Ed O'Bannon and others, Bilas got curious.
CLC said that its jersey sales were simply sales of team jerseys, and had nothing to do with any individual players.
So Bilas did a natural thing. He went onto the NCAA merchandise website, entered "Johnny Manziel" into the search window, and got this:
Emboldened, Bilas then spent much of the afternoon searching for players and finding that their corresponding jerseys would pop up on the screen.
Jadaveon Clowney, Teddy Bridgewater, Tajh Boyd, A.J. McCarron, Silas Redd, Deanthony Thomas, Marqise Lee, Nerlens Noel, Shabazz Muhammad, they were all there, even suspended players, like Notre Dame's Everett Golson, and the departed, like LSU's Tyrann Mathieu.
In response, the NCAA did the most upstanding and natural thing.
It got rid of the search box.
Didn't matter. Bilas came back with a workaround, noting that you could still enter the "shopncaasports.com" site name, then /search/braxtonmiller and the same thing would appear.
In other words, Bilas in the matter of a dozen tweets destroyed a major plank of NCAA reasoning. And exposed a major dose of NCAA hypocrisy.
Players aren't allowed to profit off their position as college athletes, yet the NCAA is allowed to profit greatly off marketing and selling their jerseys and other memorabilia.
The NCAA had no comment on Bilas' Tweets today.
After practice on Tuesday, the subject came up with University of Louisville coach Charlie Strong. He said, "With the money being made right now with the TV contracts, we've got to find a way to pay players. Eventually I think it's going to happen, if enough coaches take a stance, it will work its way out. . . . You look at us as coaches, we're overpaid. We make a lot of money and the players aren't making anything, so I'd like to see that happen for them."
Several proposals have been put forward. A proposal for a school-provided "stipend" for student-athletes was rejected last year, but remains on the table with an NCAA summit of Division I conferences coming up. Such a stipend, however, poses issues for smaller schools and would be required to be paid to athletes in sports across the board.
Much more simple is the notion of allowing players, in some way, to receive money or education credit from sales of items bearing their number. The compensation could be deferred and linked to academic progress, or any number of factors.
Regardless, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was well-drilled on the question. And he wasn't touching it.
"I'm here getting my education and that's the most important thing," Bridgewater said. "That's priceless. You can't put a price on that. So, you know, as far as being paid to play sports, I feel like we are being paid, academically."
Still, Bilas won the day with his search-box maneuver. And the NCAA took another public relations pummeling.