CRAWFORD | Louisville football says 'No autographs, please,' as - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Louisville football says 'No autographs, please,' as demand for Jackson's rises

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The University of Louisville football program told fans via Twitter today that it no longer will be taking player autograph requests for the public.

Call it a sign of the times, or the price of fame. It's also an indicator of the program having to deal with a college football first-world problem.

Acting out of growing concern for collectors offering player autographs for resale -- particularly quarterback Lamar Jackson's -- the school Tweeted the following message: “The football program no longer will be accepting autograph requests due to growing concerns over eligibility of its student-athletes.”

Elaborating in a statement, the athletic department said, “We decided to take this measure as more of a proactive approach to protect the eligibility of our student-athletes," the program's statement said. "Furthermore, certain steps needed to be taken to ensure that third parties were not benefiting commercially on the signatures of the student-athletes.”

In the first month of this season, Jackson in particular became one of the nation’s most popular college football players. His Twitter following has swelled from around 11,000 at the start of the season to more than 44,000.

Items he has signed are popular on the online seller eBay, from a signed photo of him for $50 to a helmet signed by Jackson and head coach Bobby Petrino for $499.50. Having seen Georgia's Todd Gurley and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel sanctioned over autograph concerns, school officials decided to act. The NCAA prohibits athletes from having their names or likenesses to be used for commercial purposes.

For each posting of an item, Louisville’s compliance department must issue a cease and desist order to the seller, if the seller is known, or to the eBay company itself. The school can’t stop third-party sellers from profiting off items signed by players, but it must demonstrate to the NCAA that it has taken measures to keep it from happening, and to ask sellers not to engage in the activity.

Limiting autographs is one way to do that.

U of L says there is no indication that any player’s eligibility is in question over autograph concerns, but that administrators wanted to be proactive.

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