When ESPN No. 7 ranked high school sophomore LaMelo Ball was given his own signature sneaker last week, the $395 MB1 under his family’s Big Baller Brand, speculation ran rampant about whether the UCLA commit would be able to retain his college eligibility.
However as reported by USA Today’s Cam Smith, there are two ways according to NCAA regulations that Ball could potentially still be allowed to play college ball.
According to NCAA regulation 126.96.36.199.1, Ball’s “eligibility will not be affected” if he “takes appropriate steps upon becoming a student-athlete to retract permission for the use of his or her name or picture and ceases receipt of any remuneration for such an arrangement.”
This means that if Ball says that he no longer gives his likeness to the shoe company when he gets to college, that he could be eligible to play.
“By simply retracting the right of Big Baller Brand to use his name and likeness when he arrives at UCLA, LaMelo might make himself instantly eligible again,” Smith wrote.
The other exception is NCAA regulation 188.8.131.52 which states that Ball could retain his amateur status if:
(a) The individual became involved in such activities for reasons independent of athletics ability;
(b) No reference is made in these activities to the individual’s involvement in intercollegiate athletics; (Revised: 1/18/14 effective 8/1/14)
(c) The individual’s remuneration under such circumstances is at a rate commensurate with the individual’s skills and experience as a model or performer and is not based in any way on the individual’s athletics ability or reputation.
The argument here could be that LaMelo’s celebrity is derived from his bombastic father LaVar, his outlandish statements and the family’s reality TV show, and not from his basketball success.
“If LaMelo Ball is deemed a celebrity independent of basketball, the NCAA wouldn’t be allowed to penalize him for capitalizing on that fame,” Smith wrote.
Ball, a 6-2 point guard, averaged 26.7 points this season for Chino Hills HS (CA) as a sophomore, including pouring in an eye-popping 92 points in a 146-123 win over Los Osos last February.
His oldest brother Lonzo was the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Lakers.
LaMelo’s other brother LiAngelo averaged 33.8 points as a senior at Chino Hills this season and is now a freshman at UCLA.
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