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To the right is an ad banner, one you've probably noticed or subconsciously acknowledged many times, as I did, while trolling the Worldwide Leader's site this afternoon (while checking out this week's polls, to be specific). It asks fans to click to vote for their favorite team in some irrelevant concotion known as the ESPNU Allstate Standings Fan Poll.

By all appearances, there is nothing here actually for sale, though the corporate logos of ESPNU, whatever that is, and Allstate feature prominently, indicating both companies deem the fan poll an asset to the bottom line - if you actually click on the banner, you're taken to the ballot page, where there is another banner ad for either a) a contest to win seats at the Allstate BCS National Championship Game in January or b) a short clip of some kind titled "Kicker In Training" and featuring one of the very recognizable "that guy" actors from Allstate's college football-themed TV spots. A player also figures prominently.

Now, the officially licensed logo of the player's team has been removed from his helmet, as has the officially licensed logo of said team's conference and uniform supplier, both of which would typically be seen on his jersey (and the ball, in some cases). So theoretically, this could be a picture of any player on any team, or a model suiting up for a generic program that doesn't actually exist, and most certainly is not Drew Weatherford, amateur student-quarterback of the Florida State University Seminoles, as it might initially appear. Therefore, you would probably be wrong if you thought the player's depiction in a commercially-sponsored banner ad on a commercial Web site was some sort of violation of NCAA rules:

  • You are not eligible in any sport if, after you become a student-athlete, you accept any pay for promoting a commercial product or service or allow your name or picture to be used for promoting a commercial product or service, unless:
  • The individual became involved in such activities for reasons independent of athletics ability;
  • No reference is made in these activities to the individuals involvement in intercollegiate athletics, and;
  • The individuals remuneration under such circumstances is at a rate commensurate with the individuals skill and experience as a model or performer and is not based in any way upon the individuals athletics ability or reputation.  [Bylaws]
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It's possible that the pictured player who is not Drew Weatherford of Florida State University did not actually allow his likeness to be used to promote this commercial product or service, and in fact, whether the media relations department of the entity that is not FSU knows or particpated in its production, is probably not aware of the existence of the banner or the ESPNU Allstate Standings Fan Poll. Certainly he won't receive a dime of whatever profit ESPNU or Allstate or the non-existant university might gain (directly or indirectly, most likely the latter) from the use of said image.

I'm not sure this is an unusual situation - in fact, in the broadest sense, I'm sure it's not - or that anyone really cares, and I'm on record (repeatedly) defending the NCAA's no-pay-for-play policy. But this, using a player's likeness for barely concealed corporate interests with no opportunity for the player to (legally) profit from his own picture, that's not exactly right, is it?