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Monday, August 12, 2002
Outside the Lines:
Is NCAA taking advantage?



Here's the transcript from Show 124 of weekly Outside The Lines - Is NCAA taking advantage?

SUN., AUG. 11, 2002
Host: Jeremy Schaap
Reporter: Lisa Salters
Guests: Jim Smittkamp, Jeremy Bloom's attorney; Don Larsen, former major leaguer; and Todd McFarlane, who bought Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball for $3 million.

JEREMY SCHAAP, GUEST HOST- August 11, 2002. Chris Weinke played professional baseball before he won the Heisman Trophy. Drew Henson cashed his Yankee signing bonus while still playing quarterback for Michigan. So why can't Olympic skier Jeremy Bloom play football for Colorado?

JEREMY BLOOM, COLORADO FRESHMAN WIDE RECEIVER- Any Olympic athlete, the way they fund their season -- the way I fund my season is through endorsements.

SHERRI MCKELVEY, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF COMPLIANCE, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO- The NCAA rules prohibit athletes endorsing any product.

SCHAAP- So Bloom is taking the NCAA and its rules to court.

BLOOM- I feel like I've a stone in my hand trying to bring down a wall.

SCHAAP- Also, Don Larsen is auctioning the ball he used to record the final out of his perfect game in the 1956 World Series. But does the ball belong in the Hall of Fame?

DALE PETROSKEY, PRESIDENT OF NATIONAL BASEBALL HALL OF FAME AND MUSEUM- To us it's priceless. There's no way that you can put a price on Don Larsen's perfect game.

SCHAAP- Today on Outside The Lines, selling perfection and an Olympian's fight to play college football.

The NCAA and its member institutions make billions of dollars marketing the student athlete who make their competitions possible. But those athletes don't share in the profits and they're strictly prohibited from marketing themselves. This week, in a Boulder, Colorado courtroom, a judge will decide if the NCAA's rules should apply to Jeremy Bloom, whose situation is unique.

Six months after competing as a freestyle skier at the Olympic Winter Games, Bloom, this week, took the practice field for the first time as a Colorado Buffaloes wide receiver. The NCAA says Bloom is free to collect any winnings he earned on the ski circuit, but won't allow him to play for the Buffaloes unless he gives up the lucrative endorsements he enjoys as one of the most popular marketable skiers in the universe. Lisa Salters has more on the skier who would be a wide receiver.

LISA SALTERS, ESPN CORRESPONDENT- When the Colorado Buffaloes suited up for their first full team practice yesterday, 20-year-old Jeremy Bloom was like any other freshman on the field, excited about playing for last year's Big 12 Champs.

What would it mean to you to be able to suit up for Colorado?

BLOOM- It would mean fulfilling a childhood dream of playing Division I college football and I've been a Buff fan every since I can remember. And I think any kid watching can tell you that if they can live out their dreams, their childhood dreams, it's the best thing in the world.

SALTERS- But Bloom already knows what it's like to live out a dream. Jeremy Bloom is also a world-class freestyle skier and although, he didn't medal at this year's Winter Olympic games, Bloom finished the ski season ranked number one in the world and instantly, became a star.

BLOOM- After the Olympics, it was kind of just like a tour, you know, it's just a fun tour. I got to -- I shot an ad campaign with Lauren Bush for Tommy Hilfiger, which was just a blast. I did some castings at MTV and Nickelodeon and I actually got some job offers.

SALTERS- With no salary structure in their sport, skiers depend on endorsement money to pay their expenses. Bloom's all-American good looks make him a marketing dream, the perfect pitchman for everything from blue jeans to skis. And that is the root of Bloom's problem.

MCKELVEY- The NCAA rules prohibit athletes endorsing any products. If you want to compete in area collegiate athletics, you cannot do endorsements. It doesn't matter that they're specific to one sport or another. You can't endorse any products.

SALTERS- If you want to play football that badly, why not say, "I won't accept any more endorsements?"

BLOOM- Well, if I didn't accept endorsement money, I wouldn't be able to ski. And you do get prize money, which the NCAA is allowing me to get, but what happens, you know, if I have a bad year? One bad year, I wouldn't be able to fund any kind of training. So the prize money wouldn't get me by.

MCKELVEY- Right now, we have done all that we can do as the institution for Jeremy and Jeremy is proceeding in the legal arena.

SALTERS- In other words, Jeremy Bloom is suing the NCAA.

BLOOM- I feel like I have a stone in my hand trying to bring down a wall. I feel like they're such a big organization. I remember the first time I got the paperwork. It said, "Plaintiff, Jeremy Bloom. Defendant, National Collegiate Athletic Association" and that was kind of a scary day.

PETER RUSH, JEREMY BLOOM'S ATTORNEY- All the fame, all the notoriety, Jeremy Bloom has today, he earned on his own and he doesn't owe it to the NCAA. So the question I have is -- why suddenly when Jeremy joins the NCAA do they claim title to his fame, fame that he does not owe in any way shape or form to them?

SALTERS- Bloom was first recruited to play football at the University of Colorado last year. In fact, he was offered and accepted a full scholarship. At that time, he says he thought his skiing career was over.

BLOOM- It was a really difficult time in my ski career. I just got a phone call that said I'm back on C-team, which is no funding, no World Cups and virtually, no possibility of making the Olympic team. And I moved to Boulder and trained up here. And I just wanted to play football.

GARY BARNETT, COLORADO HEAD FOOTBALL COACH- We had Jeremy in a camp and he's had great quickness and great burst, good hands. And I watched his film, his high school film, and I loved the way he played.

SALTERS- But just a few weeks later, Bloom's skiing prospects changed.

BLOOM- My ski coaches sat me down and said, "You have a very good chance of going to the Olympics. You decide." And I flew back here and met with Coach Barnett and that's when he said, "You know, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I think you should follow your dreams."

BARNETT- You make these decisions as if you're the parent of that youngster and to me, that was -- it was pretty clear-cut. There wasn't much of a decision to really make. You get one chance to go for something like that and it was set up for him. And shoot, you've got to go do it.

BLOOM- I absolutely made the right decision. The experience that I have, the lifelong lessons that I gained from the Olympics and the thrill of just representing my country was unbelievable and that's something that I won't forget for the rest of my life.

SALTERS- What do you say to the people who say, you know, "He's been to the Olympics. He's been on the world stage. He's, you know, posing in magazines. He's already lived something that most athletes would never get to live. Why can't he be happy with that?"

BLOOM- And I would say to that -- "The reason I got there is because I took advantage of every open door in front of me. And there's open doors and if I close them, where does that take me?"

SALTERS- Two sport athletes aren't unique in college athletics. The NCAA allows athletes to receive a pro salary in one sport, while still competing at the college level in another. In 1998, Drew Henson cashed a $1.9 million signing bonus from the Yankees while still playing quarterback for Michigan. And Heisman Trophy winner, Chris Weinke, played seven seasons of minor league baseball before beginning his college football career at Florida State.

CHRIS WEINKE, 2000 HEISMAN TROPHY WINNER- There's only one chance sometimes and if you don't take advantage of it at a young age, it may never come up again. I totally agree with having rules and having everybody abide by them. But on the other hand, I would never want the NCAA to be in a situation or write a rule or state a law that says that we're discouraging anybody from coming back to school.

RUSH- We don't believe we're asking the NCAA to bend its rules. He has a contractual right, under their own contract, to be a professional and it's the way they've structured the compensation that's prohibiting him from being a professional. He could have been a professional baseball player and we wouldn't be here. We're just asking that he be a professional skier.

SALTERS- How hard should he fight?

BARNETT- I think he should fight as hard as he can -- you know, he should fight it to the bitter end and -- or the sweet end, which ever one it is. But he should fight it.

SALTERS- What will you do if they deny all of your appeals and you lose?

BLOOM- I don't know. I really don't. I'm trying to stay as optimistic as possible. And the thought has crossed my mind -- what will I do. And I can't listen to those thoughts. That's premature. That's -- if that happens, I'll deal with it when it comes. I'm going to stay optimistic. I'm going to think that I'm going to be able to play football and be able to ski. And I'm going to be able to get an education at the University of Colorado.

SALTERS- But ultimately, which sport would you choose?

BLOOM- Why should I have to choose? Why does the NCAA have to try to control freestyle skiing and an Olympic sport? You know, I gave up my scholarship. I'm not asking anything from the NCAA. I'm not taking anything from the NCAA. You know, why are they taking so much from me?

SCHAAP- The University of Colorado has joined the suit as the involuntary defendant on the side of the NCAA. While the university says it supports Bloom's position, it felt it necessary to protect itself in case the courts find against Bloom. Otherwise, if Bloom were to lose his legal battle, Colorado might have to forfeit any games it won in which Bloom played. This hearing is scheduled to begin tomorrow in Boulder and could last up to three days.

Outside The Lines made repeated requests to the NCAA to appear on this show. The NCAA refused and also declined to issue a statement and joining us now is Jim Smittkamp, another of Jeremy Bloom's attorneys.

Jim, good morning. Why should the NCAA make an exception for your client?

JIM SMITTKAMP, JEREMY BLOOM'S ATTORNEY- Good morning, Jeremy. And the simple reason is that he is a professional skier and professional skiing is unique and different from baseball playing, where a player in baseball would get a signing bonus, earn a salary. A professional skier has to make a living by endorsements, by sponsoring ski equipment. And that's all Jeremy wants to do. He is eligible currently. He wants to remain eligible. That's what this lawsuit is about.

He hasn't done anything to deny his ability to play football. And we're just asking the NCAA to make an exception in these unique circumstances so that he can continue to fulfill his second lifelong dream and that's play for the University of Colorado Buffaloes football team.

SCHAAP- Jim, how much does it cost Jeremy to travel around on the ski circuit?

SMITTKAMP- I don't know exactly. It is expensive. You have to pay for his flights, the USS -- no, the United States Ski Team does pay for the lift tickets and the entry fees, but he has to pay for his own coaches and his own training. And that does add up to a significant amount of money.

SCHAAP- Does he make more in endorsements than it costs him to travel on the ski circuit and participate on the ski circuit?

SMITTKAMP- Last year, he didn't and last year was an Olympic year. In an Olympic year, actually, you make more money than a non-Olympic year. He's aiming, and that's why he wants to continue to try to defend his World Cup Championship, to try to come back in 2006, in Italy, at the Olympics and win the gold medal for his country.

SCHAAP- The NCAA makes the distinction between money earned as winnings or salary and money earned through endorsements. In your mind, is that, in any way, a legitimate distinction?

SMITTKAMP- I don't think it is. And I really do think that that's the crux of our lawsuit. He -- skiing is different from baseball, as I said before, and that's how you make your money, from the endorsements and that's all he wants to do. In addition, he wants to continue his modeling career and his ability to host TV shows or appear in print or appear in ads in general, but nothing to do with football. He knows he cannot do anything with football. He absolutely knows that.

SCHAAP- But isn't this a slippery slope? If the NCAA allows Jeremy Bloom to endorse Tommy Hilfiger, how can it then prevent, say, Ken Dorsey, from endorsing Toyota of Miami?

SMITTKAMP- Well, it is different in that all of these opportunities and his contract with Tommy Hilfiger came, you know, before he ever set foot on a university football field. He is a very personable and charismatic young man. These contracts have nothing to do with his athletic abilities. I don't know of any other athletes that are being pursued to model for Tommy Hilfiger. They selected Jeremy to be a model because he is a good-looking young man and he is very personable.

SCHAAP- What happens if you lose this week, Jim?

SMITTKAMP- Well, you know, that's going to be a tough decision for Jeremy, to be honest. If we don't get the injunction this week, he may have to make some really tough decisions of how he's going to try to get through, you know, football season. Obviously, he wants to play for the University of Colorado Buffs -- that's the second part of his dream -- and go on to the Olympics in 2006. He'll have to figure out how he's going to get through the ski season, how he's going to pay for individualized coaching and training that he's going to have incur and the living expenses after the football season is over. So it's going to be a tough decision for Jeremy.

SCHAAP- Jim, thanks again for joining us. I appreciate it.

SMITTKAMP- Thank you.

SCHAAP- Jim Smittkamp. Again, the hearing begins tomorrow in Boulder District Court. When we return to Outside The Lines, it's one of baseball's signature moments. Now, it's for sale.

PLAY BY PLAY ANNOUNCER- The pitch comes on. Bonds swings! It's a high drive into deep center field. Way back there and this is it! Number 600 for Barry Bonds!

SCHAAP- Friday night, Barry Bonds joined Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays in the 600 Home Run Club. The blast touched off a feeding frenzy among ball hungry fans. Thirty-six-year-old Jay Arsenault, emerged from the scrum bloody but in possession of the history-making ball.

JAY ARSENAULT, OWNER OF BARRY BONDS' 600th HOME RUN BASEBALL- All I really was thinking was to hold onto that ball and nobody was gonna get it from me.

SCHAAP- After 46 years, another valuable ball is now on the auction block. Don Larsen is selling online the ball he used to record the final out of his perfect game in the 1956 World Series. The ball Yogi Berra handed him after their famous embrace. Larsen is also selling, as part of the set with the ball, the spikes and glove he wore while pitching baseball's only post-season no-hitter. Bidding opened at $100,000 and concludes on August 23.

The Baseball Hall of Fame, which has wanted the ball since 1956, is disappointed with Larsen's decision to sell the ball to the highest bidder.

PETROSKEY- What this place is about is connecting generations. It's back to the days of oh; Cy Young, Bob Feller, Don Larsen, Roger Clemens and that will be a missing piece. Does it sadden me a little bit? You bet. But Don Larsen has to live his own life and do with it as he sees fit.

SCHAAP- Joining us now, Don Larsen and one of baseball's preeminent memorabilia collectors, noted filmmaker Todd McFarlane, the man who bought Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball for $3 million.

Don, why are you selling the ball?

DON LARSEN, ONLY PITCHER TO THROW A PERFECT GAME IN A WORLD SERIES (1956)- Well, my wife and I talked about it and we think it's an opportune time to put it on the auction through MastroNet. And the funds will go to a fund for my grandsons for college or whatever they need to use it the best way.

SCHAAP- What are your thoughts though about parting with this ball that represents your greatest athletic achievement? Was it a difficult or an emotional decision?

LARSEN- Well, certainly. It's part of my life. I miss it already.

SCHAAP- So how do you make the decision? I mean how difficult was it? At what point did you say, "I can now part with it?"

LARSEN- Well, my wife and I talked about it. We're not getting any younger and if I let it go too long and something happens to us, who will take care of it. So I thought it'd be an opportune time to do it correctly right now.

SCHAAP- Don, we heard a moment ago from Dale Petroskey. I'd like to share with you another statement from the president of the Baseball Hall of Fame who feels strongly that this ball belongs in Cooperstown.

LARSEN- I never was approached by them for any of these items.

SCHAAP- Hold on one second. I just want to play this statement.

PETROSKEY- To us, it's priceless. There's no way that you can put a price on Don Larsen's perfect game ball. It's the only one that's been thrown in history. Some day, there probably will be another at some point and it would be beautiful to have Don Larsen's side-by-side with the new one.

SCHAAP- Don, do you understand Dale Petroskey's sentiments at all?

LARSEN- Certainly, but that's his thoughts. And my thoughts are a little different. I'm just trying to protect and help my grandsons, you know, in the future.

SCHAAP- Did you ever consider donating the ball to the Hall of Fame?

LARSEN- No.

SCHAAP- Never?

LARSEN- Nope.

SCHAAP- Todd...

LARSEN- It's been in my possession ever since and I have no idea of doing that.

SCHAAP- Todd...

LARSEN- The set will not be broken up either.

SCHAAP- Todd, you're a collector. You spent $3 million on the McGwire home run ball, as I said before. Why would anyone spend an excess of $100,000 on the Don Larsen ball or any ball?

TODD MCFARLANE, PURCHASED MARK MCGWIRE'S 70TH HOME RUN BALL FOR $3 MILLION- Well, any time you get into talking about those kinds of value, it depends upon the uniqueness of the items there at hand. The Don Larsen auction is coming up. There has never been -- forget a no-hitter -- there has never been a perfect game in Major League Baseball in 120 years at the World Series level.

So you're talking about a one-of-a-kind item. Most of the big memorabilia purchase prices that you've seen have come on items that you can't duplicate. There's only one of those out there or again, with a Honus Wagner card, just a couple of them in mint condition. So it's a unique piece that's out there. Again, the Bobby Thompson home run ball, all of these items that potentially could come up, have a value intrinsic to some collector or some business or some corporation.

SCHAAP- Todd, you heard the comments from Dale Petroskey, the president of the Hall of Fame. The McGwire ball is not in the Hall of Fame, obviously. What are your thoughts about it not being on public display?

MCFARLANE- Well, I think at times, they can be a little myopic in their thought process. I bought the 70 ball and nine other balls from the home run race of '98. And I traveled it around the country to Major League ballparks, AAA, AA ballparks. And I hate to say it, I had more people by taking it out and traveling it come through my exhibits than the total attendance in one year of the Hall of Fame. So eventually, we're going to wind down our exhibit and then I'll get on the phone to the Hall of Fame and say, "Hey, instead of putting it into a vault, would you guys like to have it?"

So I wasn't the guy who originally caught the ball, but eventually, it will end up at the Hall of Fame. I just don't think it has to be necessarily an immediate bridge. We don't know that whoever buys or acquires Don Larsen's item doesn't keep them for some personal reason for a couple of years and then, gets on the phone and eventually, the Hall of Fame will get what they want.

SCHAAP- Just to be clear, Todd, you're making a commitment -- here and now, you're saying that ball will eventually be in the Hall of Fame?

MCFARLANE- Right. Right. Again, we have -- there are different contracts you can write with the Hall of Fame. And I never wanted to hide it away, actually, quite the opposite. The only difference with the Hall of Fame, what I did is that -- is that I wanted to travel it. Because if you don't go to Cooperstown, then I go, "Well, why don't you bring Cooperstown to them," which is what I did when I built my traveling exhibit.

SCHAAP- Don, would you like to see your ball one day in the Hall of Fame?

LARSEN- Most certainly. I just hope the purchaser of the items will put it on display also for everybody to see and view.

SCHAAP- You're attending, right now, an enormous memorabilia convention this weekend outside Chicago. I know Muhammad Ali and Cal Ripken are there, among others charging hundreds of dollars for their signatures. Why do you think people are willing to pay so much for these autographs, including yours?

LARSEN- Well, there's a lot of collectors out there and they're interested in all of the sports. And they probably want some items for their own use and this is a great opportunity and a good timing. You know, there's football, boxing, all the other sports are involved in this. It's a big deal.

SCHAAP- Todd, Friday night, Barry Bonds hit his 600th home run, joining only three guys in that exclusive club. How much do you think that ball is worth?

LARSEN- You're asking me?

SCHAAP- No, I'm sorry I was asking Todd, Don.

MCFARLANE- You know what? That's going to be an expensive ball, but because Barry has a good chance of 700 and so does A-Rod and Ken Griffey Jr., it's probably not going to be a big number. I put it at around $100,000.

SCHAAP- About $100,000. Don, Todd, thanks very much for joining us. The auction for the Don Larsen ball continues until August 23.

Last week on Outside The Lines, we posed this question -- Will the fans strike back? When we return, we'll take a look at some of the emotional responses to last week's show.

SEN. JIM BUNNING (R), KENTUCKY- You can't play somebody if you're on strike. You can't have a playoff if you're on strike. And you kill the greatest game that's ever been invented. And it's killing me because it's my game.

SCHAAP- That was Senator Jim Bunning, the Hall of Fame pitcher on last week's show. The question we posed -- will the fans strike back? In response, we received a record number of e-mails, most said, "Yes, the fans will strike back."

A viewer in Pittsburgh wrote, "I just watched the show about the impending strike and it made my blood boil. Torii Hunter's comments as well as the others who said the fans will come back was a slap in the face."

Another viewer wrote, "If the players really believe that they can go on strike again and have the fans come back, then we can send their mail to Disney World because they are living in Fantasyland."

A dissenting viewer from Waxahachie, Texas wrote, "It really tickles me to hear the fans who say they will be done with baseball if another strike occurs. The fans will be back and both the owners and players know it."

Remember you can find us online at ESPN.com. The keyword is OTL Weekly. There you'll find transcripts and streaming video of every show. We look forward to your comments on today's topics, which can be sent to OTLWeekly@espn.com.)