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August 7, 2008 - NCAA won’t challenge fantasy football, will keep status quo on beer ads

Despite calls to take a strong stand against the use of athletes’ names in an online fantasy football game in violation of NCAA rules, the NCAA announced that it does not believe it can challenge the actions due to its interpretation of a judicial ruling involving fantasy leagues and Major League Baseball players.

The NCAA also decided at its August 7 meeting of its Executive Committee that it would continue to allow television networks to sell 60 seconds of commercial time for each hour they’re on the air. Ads can only be sold for beverages containing 6 percent or less of alcohol - almost exclusively beer - during the NCAA’s national championships. The NCAA requires all beer ads in stadiums or arenas to be covered during its championships, does not permit the sale of beer, wine or liquor during the games and has advised its member institutions to follow the same code.

In late July, CBS Sports announced it would revamp its college fantasy football game by using individual names and stats instead of school names and player positions. Because of a ruling handed down by the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the case, the NCAA believes all it can do is revise its own rules. “Our bylaws lump together names, images and likenesses and the names are being used now, so we’ll have to go back and look at this,” NCAA President Myles Brand said. “We will need to go back and look at our options. We certainly are not giving up our model of amateurism.” Notably, CBS has an $11 billion television deal with the NCAA to broadcast the men’s basketball championship tournament.

In April, more than 100 university presidents wrote to Brand, calling the beer ads that appeared during the men’s basketball tournament “embarrassingly prominent.” A similar number of football and men’s basketball coaches sent their own letter to the executive committee, urging a gradual ban over the next three years. That position was backed by two other letters signed by more than 200 athletic directors and 39 university presidents. “Alcohol and college sports are a bad mix,” the letter said. “Beer promotion during college sports telecasts undermines the best interests of higher education and compromises the efforts of colleges and others to combat sometimes epidemic levels of alcohol problems on many campuses today.” Joining the call were nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives, who sent their own letter to Brand on Wednesday.

However, NCAA Executive Committee chairman Michael Adams responded on behalf of the committee to keep the status quo. “I think we’ve taken a very sensible, very rationale, very conservative approach and we’ve asked that any company that advertises (alcohol) during our games continue to include the message ‘drink responsibly’ on its ads. I think we’ve taken about as a conservative an approach as any sport in the country. While not everyone agrees 100 percent, I think we represent what is a good balance in that opinion.”