Bloom set back in bid to play and collect

Updated: May 6, 2004, 11:04 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

DENVER -- Colorado receiver Jeremy Bloom lost a bid for an injunction against the NCAA on Thursday, leaving the organization with the final say on whether he may play football while collecting endorsement money as a pro skier.

The Colorado Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court that Bloom failed to show he would probably win his case or that the NCAA was inconsistent in applying its rules.

"We recognize that, like many others involved in individual professional sports such as golf, tennis and boxing, professional skiers obtain much of their income from sponsors," the court said. "We note, however, that none of the NCAA's bylaws mentions, much less explicitly establishes, a right to receive 'customary income' for a sport."

The court added that "although student-athletes have the right to be professional athletes, they do not have the right to simultaneously engage in endorsement or paid media activity and maintain their eligibility to participate in amateur competition."

Bloom's lawyer Peter Rush told ESPN.com on Thursday that he spoke to Bloom after the decision and his client was "strongly considering" petitioning the Colorado Supreme Court to review the decisions made by the appellate court and the district court to deny injunctive relief on his behalf.

Rush told The Associated Press that the decision does not preclude a trial. He said previous NCAA rulings are inconsistent with its current stance in Bloom's case.

"It is still my intention to play college football," Bloom said in a statement. "It is the NCAA's responsibility to determine if I will be eligible for collegiate competition next fall."

"The court recognized the importance of the NCAA as a guardian of an American tradition -- amateurism within collegiate athletics," NCAA spokesman Jeff Howard told ESPN.com. "NCAA bylaws are clear in regards to endorsements and the NCAA agrees with the courts assertion that student-athletes are not above the rules of the membership."

Howard added that it is not up to the NCAA to decide if Bloom is eligible to play college football this upcoming Fall. Instead, University of Colorado officials will technically have to make that call, Howard said.

"I believe I should have the right to be a professional in the sport of freestyle skiing, as well as an amateur in the sport of football," Bloom said. "The NCAA needs to evaluate the growing number of athletes competing in alternative sports such as the Summer X Games and the Olympics. It is my hope that the NCAA will realize it is unfair to exclude all of us from college competition."

Rush has filed an affidavit from San Diego Chargers wide receiver Tim Dwight in support of Bloom. Dwight said the NCAA allowed him to run track at Iowa and keep money from endorsements he made while playing for the Atlanta Falcons.

The NCAA said the cases are different because Dwight stopped accepting endorsement money when an NCAA reinstatement process began.

School officials said they continue to support Bloom.

"We're disappointed for him, and hopefully something can still be done to keep his dreams of doing both alive," interim coach Brian Cabral said.

Before enrolling at Colorado, Bloom competed in professional skiing, becoming a World Cup champion in freestyle moguls. He appeared on MTV, agreed to endorse ski equipment and he contracted to model clothing for Tommy Hilfiger.

Rush said that the victory by the jockeys, who were granted the right by a federal court last Thursday to wear patches on their outfits during Saturday's Kentucky Derby, has relevance to Bloom's case.

"If a federal court rules that jockeys have a constitutional right to be able to wear an endorsement for the Kentucky Derby, how can the NCAA say that Jeremy, as a professional skier, can't wear the same type of endorsements as his constitutional right? If that's true, it appears like the NCAA has more power than the state legislature of Kentucky."

The university, on Bloom's behalf, requested waivers of NCAA rules restricting student-athlete endorsement and media activities. The NCAA denied the school's requests, and Bloom dropped his endorsement, modeling and media activities to play football for Colorado in 2002.

But he also filed a lawsuit and sought an injunction, claiming his endorsement activities were necessary to support his pro skiing career permitted by NCAA rules. Bloom has 45 days to file a petition to the Supreme Court to once again appeal the case, Rush said.

Information from The Associated Press and ESPN.com's Darren Rovell was used in this report.

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