College Football and NCAA Law (Winning the Lottery and Lawsuits)

NCAA - 25Kby Travis Normand

I found a couple of NCAA rulings that I thought were interesting points of college football law.  They are both fairly rare situations and I don’t expect to see them again, but I like to make note of such things for future reference.  I have always gotten the impression that the NCAA doesn’t follow its own precedent when issuing rulings, however, precedent should be the key to predicting how the NCAA will act in the future.

[Emphasis added]

February 23, 2013
Suit claims nickname infringement
by Darren Rovell

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel can’t capitalize on his name, but he can protect it.

Manziel’s corporation, JMAN2 Enterprises, filed a lawsuit in Texas last week against Eric Vaughan, a man who was selling T-shirts that read, “Keep Calm and Johnny Football.” Manziel claims Vaughan infringed on his trademark rights.

Although Manziel didn’t file papers to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “Johnny Football” until Feb. 2, a trademark doesn’t have to be federally registered for there to be an ownership claim.

The lawsuit asks the court to award damages for the unlawful sale of the “Johnny Football” T-shirts. Texas A&M’s compliance office recently received a ruling from the NCAA that a student-athlete can keep financial earnings as a result of a legal action.

Link to story:

The second ruling is not as recent as the one above, however, it also deals with a player receiving a wind-fall of money.  [Emphasis added]

August 8, 2008
Ohio U. lineman matches five numbers, wins $250,000 News Services

ATHENS, Ohio — Most lottery winners, upon learning they’ve hit the jackpot, run to the store where they played their lucky numbers to make sure, then find the nearest state lottery commission office to place a claim on their prize.

Michael Eynon did all of those things. And then he went to football practice.

Eynon, a senior offensive lineman at Ohio University, matched five numbers in Tuesday’s multistate Mega Millions drawing on the ticket he bought at a Shop Mart in Athens — good for $250,000 before taxes, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

“It hasn’t settled in yet,” he said, according to the report. “I’ve been out throwing footballs, and it’s still the same routine.”

The odds of matching five numbers, excluding the Mega Ball, were 1 in 3,904,701. Had Eynon matched the Mega Ball as well, he would have won the $34 million grand prize, according to the report.

“Everyone was like, ‘Dude, you were one number off,'” Eynon said, according to the newspaper. “I was like, ‘I’m satisfied.’ This is awesome either way.”

Instead of $34 million, Eynon will settle for $172,500 after federal and state taxes. According to the Dispatch, the 22-year-old accounting major from Westlake plans to donate some money to his church, give some to his family and invest the rest.

Ohio U. athletic spokesman Jason Corriher said the winnings will not affect Eynon’s NCAA eligibility, according to the report.

“I’ve been in this business for about 10 years and I cannot remember ever hearing about a student-athlete winning a portion of the lottery,” Corriher said, the newspaper reported. “It’s pretty unheard of, I think.”

For link to story:

While a current college football player cannot receive payment for their athletic performance, the NCAA apparently doesn’t have a problem with money that is given in a one-time lump sum (like lawsuit judgments and lottery winnings).  I am sure that such a ruling would be extended to other similar situations, but with the NCAA, you never know.

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