NCAA to 'exit' business of selling school-related online items

The NCAA will "exit" the business of selling player and school related memorabilia and apparel on its branded website, NCAA president Mark Emmert said Wednesday.

That site -- ShopNCAASports.com -- had come under fire this week for selling ... 1) jerseys identified by individual players, 2) the autograph of a player who was a central figure in NCAA case (Reggie Bush) and 3) Penn State videos of a game that had been vacated by the association in the Sandusky scandal.

"I don't believe we should have been in that business ...," NCAA president Mark Emmert said during a Thursday afternoon conference call with media. "I don't think that's appropriate for us and we're going to exit it."

Emmert added that no revenue was realized from the portion of the website that sold player jerseys. ESPN's Jay Bilas broke a story earlier in the week by typing in the name "Johnny Manziel" in the site's search engine. What came up was a variety of Manziel's No. 2 jerseys. The NCAA has maintained in the past that the jerseys don't represent a particular player.

On Wednesday, CBSSports.com was able to find an autographed picture of Bush on the site for $179.95. Bush was found to have taken extra benefits valued at thousands of dollars in the controversial USC case that ended three years ago.

Also, ShopNCAASports.com featured a Penn State Orange Bowl video from 2006. That was one of the 111 Joe Paterno victories that the NCAA vacated as part of the sanctions applied last year.

"We certainly recognize why that could be seen as hypocritical," Emmert said. "Indeed, the business of having the NCAA in those kinds of goods is a mistake. We're going to exit that business immediately. It's not something core to what the NCAA is about. We probably never should have in that business.

Michigan State president Lou Anna Simon -- on the call as chair of the NCAA executive committee -- complimented Emmert for moving quickly on the issue. However, two days after Bilas first broke the news about the Manziel jerseys, there was still questionable items available on the site Thursday morning. The items had been removed from the ShopNCAASports.com site by Thursday afternoon.

Emmert added there is some worth to keep that site up because there is an interest in "things that are NCAA specific."

Later Thursday afternoon, the NCAA released this statement:

"Moving forward, the NCAA online shop will no longer offer college and university merchandise. In the coming days, the store's website will be shut down temporarily and reopen in a few weeks as a marketplace for NCAA championship merchandise only.

"After becoming aware of issues with the site, we determined the core function of the NCAA.com fan shop should not be to offer merchandise licensed by our member schools."

The conference call was presented as an update after the board's Thursday meeting in Indianapolis. But most of the questions had to do with players' rights to their likeness, the website and Emmert's job security.

"Mark is an integral part of our process to move forward to strengthen the NCAA as the voice of college sports," Simon said.

 
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