University of Wisconsin aims to stop sales of star quarterback’s baseball cards

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By Susan Lulgjuraj | Contributing Editor

Russell Wilson baseball card owners might get a letter from the University of Wisconsin if they have his cards for sale.

Wilson has cards in 2010 Bowman Chrome Draft Prospects, 2010 Bowman Draft Prospects and 2010 Topps Pro Debut after he was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 2010 draft and played second base this summer for the Class-A Asheville Tourists.

However, Wilson is also the quarterback for the Wisconsin Badgers. He transferred there from N.C. State. He has thrown for 2,416 yards and 25 touchdowns for the 8-2 Badgers this season.

On Wednesday, a top-rated eBay seller, Alma Montoya (username: Charlieshustle), received a message from a person who says they are affiliated with the University of Wisconsin. He has a 2010 Bowman Draft Prospects card for sale for $1, but was asked to take the card down.

The letter from a woman identifying herself as Katie Smith, Director of Compliance, stated:

“NCAA rules (Bylaw 12.5.2.2) prohibit the use of a student-athlete’s name or picture to advertise, recommend, or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind. Therefore, as is required under NCAA rules, I am writing on behalf of the institution to demand formally that you immediately cease and desist the use of this advertisement in order to protect the eligibility of the student-athlete. Please be advised that NCAA regulations prohibit you from using the name, picture, or any likeness of any current University of Wisconsin-Madison student-athlete in any commercial manner.”

A message was left at her office and has not been returned.

The eBay note was sent from account ‘uw-compliance,’ which looks as though was set up in mid-October, according to the site.

NCAA bylaw 12.5.2.2 specifically states: “You are not eligible in any sport if, after you become a student-athlete, you accept any pay for promoting a commercial product or service or allow your name or picture to be used for promoting a commercial product or service. [Bylaws 12.5.2.1 and 12.5.2.2]”

Wilson wouldn’t be the first athlete to compete professionally in one sport while maintaining college eligibility in another. He also wouldn’t be the first to appear on a card at the same time.

Ricky Williams and Josh Booty were both football players who had previously played baseball and appeared on widely available cards.

Williams was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 1999 out of the University of Texas, but Williams played minor league baseball from 1995-1998,  appearing on baseball cards.

Booty played professional baseball before playing college football. He was the Florida Marlins’ first-round draft pick in 1994 and was in the organization until 1998. He played for the Marlins from 1997-99 and took home a World Series ring in 1997.

Booty started his football career in 1999 at Louisiana State University. By then, Booty had baseball cards in Classic, Upper Deck Minors, team-issued cards, Bowman, Leaf, Donruss, Pacific and Fleer. He is currently a free agent.

Montoya said he doesn’t know what he is going to do with is listing yet.

But if Wisconsin plans on policing all of the cards on eBay, its compliance office has a lot of work to do.

As of Wednesday at 6 p.m., there were 59 Wilson listings on eBay — many Wisconsin items. A 2010 Bowman Chrome Gold Refractor of his recently sold on eBay for $39.99.

Susan Lulgjuraj is a contributing editor for Beckett Media. You can email Susan here. Follow her on Twitter here.

39 Comments

  1. votc
    Posted Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at 05:52 PM | Permalink

    Isn’t that the problem of Topps and not individual sellers?

  2. SesameSt4Life
    Posted Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at 06:29 PM | Permalink

    I don’t see that as the Ebay sellers problem. They should go “badger” someone else.

  3. steve
    Posted Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at 06:35 PM | Permalink

    Does anyone remember when it use to be about collecting cards & the fun associated with it ???????? Now its all about how many gazillions of dollars an athlete can make (I use for example either 2011 or 2012 Marquee…..and the amount that Mr. Aaron ‘DEMANDS’ per auto……or how much more Mr. Pujols can make vs. Mr. Rodriguez in a year on the diamond).

    And I agree……why go after the seller(s) of these cards…..is it because Topps has such deep pockets & the sellers on Ebay are less in fortune and can be “pursued” easier ?!?!?!?!?!?

  4. Richard Otterbourg
    Posted Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at 06:54 PM | Permalink

    Thw way I look at it ,is he bought the card, probably got it out of a pack that he payed for and now wants to get rid of it. Case Closed

  5. Jason Mitchell
    Posted Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at 07:05 PM | Permalink

    This is totally ridiculous. The “amateur” players sign deals and receive money from the card companies, not the after-market sellers on ebay. Those deals can’t be undone once they’re signed and paid. The end-user who buys cards at retail is in no way obligated to listen to anyone tell them what to do with their property. Let’s all put our Russell Wilson cards up en masse!

  6. Nick Tegeler
    Posted Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at 07:29 PM | Permalink

    I agree that it has to be a problem for Topps and not the collector/seller. I have been around this hobby consistantly for years and this is the first time I have heard of this. If this is the case, why did Topps print his cards to begin with?

  7. BrewCrewUK
    Posted Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at 07:38 PM | Permalink

    Gosh scary that,I just went from looking at one on the bay to coming onto beckett site.Oh and go Badgers!.

  8. chrisolds
    Posted Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at 08:09 PM | Permalink

    Jason: you are correct. There was nothing done wrong at the time the card was made. The only hang-up potentially on Topps would be for future cards of him — and I still think it wouldn’t be an issue. Another example of how this is out of whack? Countless current NCAA athletes appear on USA Baseball cards right now.

  9. danny
    Posted Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at 09:09 PM | Permalink

    umm
    instead of all this drama about someone have baseball cards already …….
    how bout the college focus on educating our kids

  10. whiteyshark
    Posted Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at 10:23 PM | Permalink

    bottom line………its none of wisconsins’ business what the seller is doing with HIS cards! the U of W has absolutely no right whatsoever to demand that this seller take down the post! in fact i would increase the price now. these idiots just made this a very desirable card. heck….I might want to buy this one! what gets me is that this guy has to take down this card because the NCAA says so? who the heck cares what the NCAA says? it’s just the NCAA. who are they to tell you what to do with your stuff? and how do they think they can punish this player for something he isnt doing in the first place? More moronic wisconsin red neckery ( yes i made that word up ).

  11. Kevin
    Posted Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at 11:08 PM | Permalink

    Since the NCAA allows players to become professionals in one sport while retaining “amateur” status in another, its rather hypocritical of the NCAA (or any of its member schools) to try and restrict sales of any ancillary product directly related to that athlete’s professional sport. Basically what they’re saying is if we can’t make money off him in that sport, neither can you.

    If the card was produced legally by Topps then there’s nothing a compliance officer can do to a re-seller except raise the specter of a lawsuit, which they would lose if actually filed since NCAA by-laws don’t apply to the general public.

    @chrisolds: follow the money, some of the licensing fees probably make it back to the NCAA in some fashion. Can’t believe they’d allow it without a taste of the action.

  12. Adam Shoemaker
    Posted Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at 11:17 PM | Permalink

    “NCAA rules (Bylaw 12.5.2.2) prohibit the use of a student-athlete’s name or picture to advertise, recommend, or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind. Therefore, as is required under NCAA rules, I am writing on behalf of the institution to demand formally that you immediately cease and desist the use of this advertisement in order to protect the eligibility of the student-athlete. Please be advised that NCAA regulations prohibit you from using the name, picture, or any likeness of any current University of Wisconsin-Madison student-athlete in any commercial manner.”

    That is SOOOOO far from reality that it doesn’t even produce a chuckle from me. First off, NCAA is making a profit themselves by SELLING an NCAA rights contract to card-producing companies (ie. UD now, and Press Pass and Sage before that). Russell Wilson played the 2010 season at NCSU, AFTER signing a MiLB contract to play baseball AND still was granted a fifth year of eligibility (by the NCAA) to play football at Wisconsin. NCSU didn’t want the headache of trying to figure out NCAA’s exact rules in this matter, so they let him go. Wilson is a great athlete that should have his choice of picking which sport to play in professionally. It seems he is actually making a choice to weigh the options before deciding and I applaud him for doing so. I still can’t figure out how he got to play another year of NCAA football while being signed to a contract w/ a MLB team. That contract put him on a professional level b/c of Topps having contracts with MLB AND MiLB!
    UW needs to get over it. NCAA can’t mess them up b/c of all the discrepancies in their own wordings of the Bylaw. Besides, I guarantee the University is selling replica jerseys of Wilson. Where are all the broken lines/rules going to end?

    What exactly does the NCAA consider to be a commercial product?????????????????

  13. Tom Waldron
    Posted Wednesday November 16th, 2011 at 11:25 PM | Permalink

    Chris, Jason I agree . Wow, though should this be a big surprise another Company /Institution Tries to assert ownership of a Person oR Player more over than his own right to Own himself.
    We Need not look too far as Kobe and Panini fight with a Vender for A ‘Right or ownership with whatever Kobe does with his own Signatire. I guess Wisonsin had a OOPS moment. But the Ncaa
    is the ones who allow it right….the craziest thing I’ve heard . By the way I’m looking for his cards right now.

  14. Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 12:39 AM | Permalink

    so what about Brandon Weeden and his 2002 (I think) Bowman Chrome cards?

  15. Mike
    Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 01:05 AM | Permalink

    I don’t see how a college can enforce that onto common people.It seems to me that they’re trying to cover their own behinds and make sure there’s no eligibility issues.Which even at that this sounds ridiculous.The rules are for the student athletes,not regular people.It’s not like this seller made this card,it comes right from Topps.Since this card was produced before he even enrolled at Wisconsin,I would think it would be even harder to try to enforce that rule.I mean technically he was out of college when the card was made,or at least done at NC State.I just don’t see how this rule can be enforced on regular people.If it can,those selling Brandon Weeden cards should expect some sort of issue.What a joke.

  16. JonathanI
    Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 08:09 AM | Permalink

    As if the state of Wisconsin has nothing else to worry about right now.

    JonathanI

  17. card opinionator
    Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 08:35 AM | Permalink

    Very interesting story Susan. Good job.

  18. John Ward
    Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 10:29 AM | Permalink

    Not a legal expert by any means, but when did citizens of this country become obligated to abide by the NCAA rules as if it is a law. UofW cannot demand anything from a citizen of this country. Unless you are part of the NCAA, which most citizens are not, they need to cease harrassing folks.

    Just bought ten of them myself.

    Cheers.

  19. John Ward
    Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

    And just bought the card from charlieshustle.

  20. Yankeescop
    Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    Just a thought, but maybe the letter isnt really from UW. There are many twisted people out there and maybe this is another example of someone with too much time on their hands.

  21. Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 11:19 AM | Permalink

    The NCAA by laws have specific provisions to allow the sale of Team USA cards. They are the one exception. You can sell the cards that are given away of AFLAC players on the secondary market, but there is no infraction with selling a Football Players Baseball cards.

  22. Lanny Steinkamp
    Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 12:02 PM | Permalink

    i think all of the people should take a hike. if they dont want the card sold don,t have it made.

  23. Adam H.
    Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 12:33 PM | Permalink

    Wilson’s card does not have a Wisconsin logo or any mention of the Badgers anywhere on it. UW doesn’t have a leg to stand on. I wish I had a handful of his cards. I’d put them on ebay right now and tag them “Suck it UW Compliance!” BTW, good point about Weeden, J.R. It would be interesting to get a response from the Okla State compliance office concerning the same matter.

  24. chrisolds
    Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 12:39 PM | Permalink

    Yankeescop: Additional info left in the message was verified.

    Adam H.: Added irony? The auction listing for the card did not mention Wisconsin at all.

  25. John Ward
    Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 12:52 PM | Permalink

    UofW director of compliance is someone by the name of Katie Smith. Do a search and you can see a article where she was hired on June 2010.

  26. Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 01:03 PM | Permalink

    Wisconsin can’t legally stop this sale – NCAAs bylaws have no legal authority over anyone. The only person they could punish is the member of their group – Wilson.

  27. Ken B
    Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 02:13 PM | Permalink

    This is absurd from a legal standpoint. Only NCAA members are subject to NCAA rules. They are not law. The U. of Wisconsin has no legal authority to stop sellers of the card, which is fully licensed I might add. Bottom line is that sellers have nothing to worry about.

  28. Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 03:51 PM | Permalink

    so let mr try and get this right, there is a cease and desist order by NCAA, i’m not sure but did beckett just advertise a card that falls under there bylaws,that states they can’t do this, i think this falls under advertisment and there is a picture, and this is a commercial manner. oops, just saying, maybe not

  29. chrisolds
    Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 04:32 PM | Permalink

    Sorry, Charles, there’s a difference between editorial coverage and advertisements.

  30. Jon Chuckery
    Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 06:34 PM | Permalink

    The greater point being missed is how archaic NCAA bylaws are regarding athletes…They try to apply 1960’s standards to 2000’s reality…Wilson’s case is even more funny b/c he’s a POST graduate student…However the NCAA acts like a hammer on kids who aren’t able to hold a job, sign jerseys, etc to make a buck, but Wis can sell his jerseys and reap the rewards (incl but not limited to a potential $18 payout for the Rose Bowl) off his achievements…Anybody wonder why conferences are expanding rapidly and looking to remove themselves from the NCAA and its bylaws???

  31. Ryan Garris
    Posted Thursday November 17th, 2011 at 11:24 PM | Permalink

    Ya Chris, but the difference between this and the USA team cards and the others stated is that he is in a professional uniform in the picture on this card.

  32. Ron Jungbauer
    Posted Friday November 18th, 2011 at 09:52 AM | Permalink

    It is not the sellers problem or Topps. If this Student Athelete signed any kind of Contract with Topps and was paid a fee to appear on their cards, he is no longer eligble to play any sport for a college period. It is his screw up and his alone. He should have been given better advice.

  33. chrisolds
    Posted Friday November 18th, 2011 at 10:25 AM | Permalink

    Ryan: The uniform has nothing to do with it in this case. The athlete’s image and name are on the card — as is the case with USA cards.

  34. Posted Friday November 18th, 2011 at 12:56 PM | Permalink

    If i was selling the card and they pulled that c r a p I would turn around a sue topps for selling it to me then. See how far that goes, when topps gets tons of lawsuits for selling that product then. If I buy something its mine, I’ll do whatever I want with it so Kiss my you know what U of W.

  35. Adam
    Posted Friday November 18th, 2011 at 10:19 PM | Permalink

    The fact that an article was even written about this is completely absurd. The entire article is based on a single (1!) un-confirmed(!) e-mail. And if the University of Wisconsin is serious about preventing the sale (and why not the future printing?) of his cards, why would they go after one ebay seller who has only one card listed for one dollar?!?! What could they possibly hope to accomplish by doing that? Have there been any further statements made about this “issue” by anyone else representing the University of Wisconsin, Topps, or the NCAA?

  36. Dave
    Posted Saturday November 19th, 2011 at 11:00 PM | Permalink

    This is garbage. Each sport is treated INDIVIDUALLY. He is a professional in one sport and an amateur in another. Per NCAA rules, this is allowed. There are numerous players that play pro ball and college football. Are we going to get letters on BRANDON WEEDEN too? It’s irrelevant and frivolous. This is not a compliance issue. She did the right thing by being proactive, but the cannot do anything. No one is giving the kid the proceeds from the sale. The school should try to find out who represented him in baseball. That’s it.

  37. cincy Scott
    Posted Sunday November 20th, 2011 at 04:48 AM | Permalink

    The college cant really have that much time on their hands? Geeze it just shows you how crazy everyone is getting today.

  38. Randall Roberson
    Posted Wednesday November 23rd, 2011 at 08:12 AM | Permalink

    Why should card sellers care about NCAA rules? They are not a law enforcement agency with powers outside of collegiate athletics. This seems to be a problem for the athlete, not card collectors or sellers. Unless Wisconsin is placing a bid on the card I would tell them to get lost.

  39. Dave
    Posted Thursday November 24th, 2011 at 11:14 PM | Permalink

    Here’s another thought…..No one can buy/sell/trade and USA junior national team cards….It will jeopardize their eligibility if they go to school at a NCAA affiliated school…. That one will be next. In their own bylaws it says an individual can be a professional in one sport and retain amateur status in another. NCAA has nothing worthwhile to investigate.

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