Hoops, business can't mix--NCAA

February 28, 1991|By George Diaz | George Diaz,Orlando Sentinel

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas has a knack for keeping the NCAA's enforcement division busy.

In a season that already carries a significant asterisk following the NCAA's unprecedented negotiations with the Runnin' Rebels, the university has quietly acquiesced on a recent controversy involving an outside business opportunity of senior point guard Greg Anthony.

After conversations with UNLV legal representative Brad Booke, NCAA officials persuaded Anthony to sever his ties with a sportswear store last week. Anthony renounced that interest to avoid jeopardizing his eligibility, although the decision will not affect his work as a research assistant with a Nevada title company.

The NCAA, in October 1990, had allowed Anthony to pursue his partnership in Two Hype, a sportswear and silk-screening company Anthony started with three friends. Based on the expected income from his two business interests, Anthony willingly turned down his grant-in-aid, worth $12,212, for the 1990-91 school year.

NCAA rules prohibit an athlete who is receiving a grant-in-aid from working during the season in which he or she competes. Waiving the grant-in-aid allowed Anthony to work year-round without restricting his income potential or fearing an NCAA reprisal.

NCAA officials began reconsidering shortly after CBS analyst Billy Packer, during a nationally televised game against Arkansas on Feb. 10, questioned whether an athlete could take advantage of the NCAA manual.

By renouncing his or her grant-in-aid, Packer argued, an athlete could receive money from outside groups -- possibly boosters or agents -- without having any legitimate business. The NCAA does not have the power to subpoena employment records of private companies.

The closest reference to Anthony's business pursuits is found in NCAA bylaw 12.4.2.5, which states: "A student-athlete may not be employed to sell equipment related to the student-athlete's sport if his or her name, picture or athletic reputation is used to advertise or promote the product of a job or the employer."

NCAA eligibility officials argued that although Anthony's name was not used in promotional activities, mere ownership constituted a violation. They cited a 1981 case involving former Georgia running back Herschel Walker, who was denied the opportunity to open "The Herschel Walker Insurance Agency."

"Frankly, I'm a little troubled by that analysis," Booke said. "I don't see how those two cases are on all fours with one another. Greg is not sure that he will have the opportunity to take basketball to the next level. If he doesn't, he wants to get a head start in the business world. The idea of deterring that kind of attitude is disturbing. I'm not sure that the NCAA isn't trying to keep kids from pursuing opportunities."

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