By Ed McGranahan.
Dan Radakovich told The Clemson Insider a short while ago that he was not prepared to officially react to the NCAA’s decision to stop selling individual jersey and individual team merchandise.
NCAA president Mark Emmert said today he understood how selling football jerseys connected to a specific player and school could be construed as hypocritical and, he said, it was a mistake.
Using a name or likeness without an athlete’s permission has been a decades old issue that percolates periodically, most recently when ESPN basketball analyst Jay Bilas criticized the NCAA for selling jerseys of popular players on its ShopNCAAsports.com website.
Among the names Bilas typed in the search function were Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd, as well as Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel.
Up popped Boyd’s No. 10 on a Clemson jersey.
Though their names are not on the jersey, players are not reimbursed for of the jersey’s likeness. However, as Radakovich pointed out, jersey sales are only about one percent of product sales at Clemson.
The root of a bigger issue would be that the NCAA is a co-defendant with EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Company in a suit by former and current players over the use of their names, images and likenesses.
Darius Robinson, a cornerback in his final season at Clemson, joined the class action suit several months ago. Robinson has asked not to speak to local media about the subject.
Given the depth and complexity of the issue, Radakovich was not about to offer a knee-jerk solution without time to examine it further.
“The easiest thing to do right now is to stop all jersey sales,” he said. “Clemson won’t shut down. And I am not at the point right now where I think that (withdrawing jerseys) is the right thing to do.”
Pointed out that Boyd’s No. 10 and Sammy Watkins’ No. 2 are the most prominent contemporary jerseys in the shop at the West End Zone, Radakovich also declined to offer a glimpse at his personal opinion.
“I guess it’s been going on so long at so many different levels at so many different schools. Certainly our fans appreciate having the opportunity to buy a replica jersey of the team they support,” he said. “I don’t know I’ve given it any deep thought as to some of those other ramifications. I think that there are always two sides to it.
“There is a real positive side of young boys, young girls going around in the jerseys of their favorite players of the schools that they truly enjoy. Then there’s the more seedy side where someone might say that this is exploitation.”
Radakovich said he had not receive instruction or mandate from the NCAA and asked for time to further study the issue.
“I think you really have to look at both sides of this,” he said. “There is a marketing and promotions side where fans want to have that kind of product. It’s not a revenue generator to the size that it’s going to be earthshaking.”
Asked about his views on compensation to players, he said, “I’m not going there yet.”