Chip LaMarca hammers ‘outdated’ NCAA rules after Clemson blocks player from raising money for coronavirus victims

Chip LaMarca
The NCAA later clarified that universities could allow athletes to raise money.

Rep. Chip LaMarca is hammering the NCAA‘s “outdated rules” after a Clemson player’s fundraising effort for coronavirus victims was shut down.

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and his girlfriend, Marissa Mowry launched a GoFundMe page . Mowry is a soccer player for Anderson University.

But Lawrence was originally blocked from participating in the fundraising efforts after Clemson shut down his involvement, reportedly due to NCAA rules.

The NCAA says it did not push for the page to shut down and that Clemson made the call. However, the university reportedly acted due to NCAA rules.

The NCAA does not allow athletes to generate money by using their name, image or likeness. Even though Lawrence was not personally profiting off the page, the normal rules disallow him from using his likeness to help raise money.

After the couple took to social media to announce they were blocked from involvement, the NCAA clarified the rule. Going forward, the organization is allowing individual universities discretion to allow players to lend their likeness to coronavirus fundraising efforts.

“The NCAA did not ask Trevor Lawrence to take down his fundraiser for COVID-19 patients and their families,” the NCAA statement said.

“We continue to work with member schools so they have the flexibility to ensure that student-athletes and communities impacted by this illness are supported, and we applaud Trevor for his efforts.”

It’s unclear whether Lawrence will start a new GoFundMe page after the first was shut down. But LaMarca argued the entire episode should have been avoided to begin with.

“Clemson’s move was shortsighted and wrong,” LaMarca said Wednesday regarding the original decision to shut down the fundraising effort.

“I am pleased the NCAA is allowing university discretion relating to collegiate athletes who want to help others at this time of crisis. With Trevor’s GoFundMe page being reinstated, the world still turned, the sun still rose, and the sky is not falling. Clearly, the NCAA can evolve with the times.”

LaMarca pushed a bill through the Legislature this year that allows athletes to be compensated for their name, image or likeness, even for profit. That legislation will take effect in 2021, giving the NCAA time to make its own changes to existing rules.

But LaMarca argues those rules are fundamentally flawed if they lead to charity efforts like Lawrence’s to be stopped.

“The underlying problem we see today is that universities and athletes alike are terrified of the NCAA and their outdated rules that they choose to enforce,” LaMarca said.

“This is exactly why the Florida Legislature put the NCAA on a reasonable timetable with SB 646 and the shot clock is now ticking. My hope is that the NCAA joins the NAIA who is already taking the lead by changing their rules to allow their athletes to freely use their own name, image, and likeness — it’s the right thing to do.”

Ramogi Huma, Executive Director of the National College Players Association, agreed with LaMarca’s take.

“Trevor Lawrence’s efforts to help victims of this pandemic are exemplary,” Huma said.

“This is yet another example of why NCAA rules seeking to monopolize players’ fame must come to an end. Players are people not NCAA property. The NCAA should have no part in restricting players’ use of their own name, image, and likeness for any purpose, charitable or otherwise.”

Darren Heitner, a Fort Lauderdale sports and trademark attorney, also backed LaMarca’s legislative push and said the Lawrence snafu is a large reason why.

“It’s ludicrous that we are even having a discussion about whether NCAA rules prohibit a player from being charitable, but the fact is they have,” Heitner said.

“This is yet another example of why it is so important to end limitations on college athletes’ ability to utilize their names, images and likenesses.”

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


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