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New Mexico AD Defends Online Auction of Game-Worn Jerseys

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Copyright 2013 Albuquerque Journal

Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
September 11, 2013 Wednesday
SPORTS; Pg. D1
1303 words
Lobo AD: Auction not a problem;
Krebs says profiting off online jersey sales doesn't shortchange players
Geoff Grammer Journal Staff Writer

The Lobos men's basketball team has memories that will last a lifetime from their 11-day, three-game exhibition tour in Australia.

And thanks to the power of an Internet auction, several Lobo fans have their own keepsakes to remember the trip, too.

UNM made a little more than $3,100, after shipping and other expenses were deducted, from an online auction of 24 of the specially made jerseys worn by Lobos in games during that trip, according to information provided to the Journal after an Inspection of Public Records Act request.

The jerseys - in both cherry and white varieties featuring the numbers of the 12 players who made the trip, as well as a trip-specific Southern Cross emblem (a constellation visible in the Southern Hemisphere that is the five-star pattern seen on the Australian flag) - were sold to the highest bidders.

The money UNM made goes into a general fund for the athletics department.

While it's hardly making the university rich, it does come at a time when the NCAA and college athletics in general are under fire for profiting off player likenesses - while players themselves are not allowed to receive any extra benefits for selling jerseys, autographs or in any other way profiting off their own likeness as an athlete.

UNM athletic director Paul Krebs said he doesn't think there is an issue with the auction of players' game-worn jerseys, adding that the notion athletics departments across the country are getting rich off their athletes is a bit of a misconception.

"I think people think there's these millions of dollars to be made," Krebs said. "We're selling these authentic game-worn jerseys and the net, after expenses, is what? Two to three thousand (dollars). It's not a big market."

CBS Sports, which had contractual rights to UNM's athletics website until recent weeks, received a 20 percent cut ($782.20) of the auctioned jersey sales. UNM's final profit after shipping and other expenses was $3,128.80.

Junior guard Hugh Greenwood, one of two Australia natives playing for the Lobos, saw his red No. 3 jersey sell for $355. Lobo junior center Alex Kirk's red No. 53 jersey tied the $355 haul Greenwood's jersey pulled in for UNM as the highest-selling jerseys in the auction, which saw most of the 24 jerseys auctioned go for $75 to $180.

UNM's trip to Australia cost an estimated $130,000, paid for by two games UNM scheduled this coming season - vs. Kansas in Kansas City, Mo., and vs. Marquette in Las Vegas, Nev. - which come with game checks for UNM totaling $125,000.

Interestingly, the week the Lobos returned from Australia, the NCAA launched an investigation into Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, the quarterback at Texas A&M, for allegedly receiving money for his autographs. A week before the investigation, Texas A&M asked Manziel and fellow former Aggie Heisman winner John David Crow to autograph six helmets that were auctioned for an $81,600 profit for the school.

Critics of the Manziel investigation, and the NCAA in general, say it is hypocritical for a school to profit off student-athletes, while not allowing the student to do the same.

The other side counters that student-athletes for major sports get a free education for four to five years in most cases, including free counseling and tutoring services, and free room and board. They also are trained in their sport and making themselves more marketable and increasing their earning potential for their post-college life.

What they aren't getting is a piece of the pie now, when they are the most responsible for the profits.

ESPN college basketball analyst, lawyer and former Duke Blue Devil star Jay Bilas has made it his personal mission to point out the hypocrisy of the NCAA.

As Bilas pointed out in early August, on the NCAA.com website at the time of the Manziel investigation being launched, one could type "Manziel" into the search bar and be redirected to an online store selling No. 2 Texas A&M jerseys, minus Manziel's name on them.

The same was true for former LSU football player Tyrann Mathieu, who was kicked off his team a year ago for drug violations; current South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney; and former UCLA basketball player Shabazz Muhammad, who wasn't allowed to start last season because of an NCAA investigation regarding extra benefits.

"Ultimately, it comes back to a 'should student-athletes be paid' issue," Krebs said. "That's one that is a far more complex issue than people suggest it is.

"The discussion about paying college athletes is not going to go away. It's getting a lot of attention and will continue to get a lot of attention. I think there will be some movement going forward for some definitive action, but I don't foresee a scenario where (college) athletes get actually paid."

Krebs said he'd be OK with athletes getting a future cut of their specific jersey sales while they're students if the NCAA went that route, but there isn't much more that can change without crippling the finances of most athletics departments. If you pay one high-profile athlete, you have to pay all athletes, Krebs points out.

"The marketability of a player at UNM - we have 450 student athletes, and I would argue that we have about five kids, maybe 10 if we're being really optimistic, who have some market power where people might be willing to pay, other than mom and dad, aunt and uncle or girlfriend, who may be willing to pay much for a replica jersey," Krebs said. "I think they're still student-athletes. The value of a scholarship is meaningful."

On Tuesday, former Oklahoma State point guard and current CBS Sports radio and TV personality Doug Gottlieb, an opponent of paying student-athletes, wrote a column on the subject, saying schools have every right to turn a profit off their athletes.

"Terms are thrown around like 'exploitation' and 'indentured servitude,' neither of which reflect the reality of what takes place, which is the marketing of a young men's athletic skills in exchange for training, promotion, competition and evaluation in their chosen sport, in addition to the best education the athlete chooses to receive from a university," Gottlieb wrote on CBSSports.com.

There are other aspects of the student-athlete experience that Krebs feels shouldn't be ignored.

"We just sent 11-12 players on the trip of a lifetime," Krebs said. "Outside Hugh and Cam (Bairstow, also from Australia), we sent kids on a trip to go see a foreign country, go experience the culture, experience the world that they may not ever have the opportunity to do in their life otherwise. It cost us far more to send them to Australia - that amount of money made in the auction didn't pay for one kid to make the trip. If the discussion is truly about, 'Are we profiting off these kids?' It's on the contrary."

Going once, going twice

The University of New Mexico in August auctioned off specially designed jerseys worn by the Lobo men's basketball team on an 11-day exhibition tour of Australia. The auction was conducted online through GoLobos.com and through an auction website owned by CBS Sports, which got a 20 percent cut of the proceeds. NUMBERS FROM THE AUCTION 24 jerseys auctioned (one red, one white with 12 players' numbers) $3,911 total auction sales $3,128.80 net profit for UNM after shipping and other expenses $782.20 CBS Sports auction site share

TOP SELLING UNM EXHIBITION JERSEYS t1. Hugh Greenwood's red No. 3 $355 t1. Alex Kirk's red No. 53 $355 3. Cameron Bairstow's red No. 41 $305 4. Kendall Williams' red No. 10 $220 5. Alex Kirk's white No. 53 $215 6. Kendall Williams' white No. 10 $205 7. Cameron Bairstow's white No. 41 $200 8-24. Jerseys sold for between $75 and $180 (Information from UNM athletics through an Inspection of Public Records Act request.) Inside

Two more recruits impressed with Lobo women's program, commit; auction facts D2

COURTESY OF UNM The Lobo hoops jersey of Alex Kirk, above, garnered a bid of $215 in an online auction conducted by UNM after the team's trip to Australia.
September 11, 2013

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