Under NCAA rules, boosters can't pay college athletes, but
apparently, the courts can.
The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the NCAA has determined
that Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel, can
keep any potential earnings awarded in his recently filed trademark lawsuit.
Two weeks ago, Jman2 Enterprises, L.L.C., which owns all rights
regarding the use of Manziel's name, nickname, image, picture, likeness, and trademark,
filed a trademark lawsuit against Eric Vaughan.
Vaughan is accused of selling and marketing goods bearing Manziel's
trademark "Johnny Football."
"Defendant has willfully used and continues to use
Plaintiff's property in the form of the mark 'Johnny Football,'" the complaint
alleges, "with the intent of profiting from Johnny Manziel's name, nickname,
image, picture, and likeness."
An application to register the mark "Johnny Football" is
currently pending before the USPTO.
The Houston Chronicle reports that in the case of Manziel, the
NCAA had to answer the following question:
Can student-athletes profit from
lawsuits concerning alleged trademark infringements?
That answer appears to be yes.
According to the Chronicle, the NCAA has specifically said that Manziel can keep any
winnings from a civil proceeding as a private entity.
The NCAA distinguishes Manziel's situation from an event
that's orchestrated to enable cash flow to a student-athlete. Such a scenario, which
constitutes an NCAA violation, might include a student-athlete scheming to sue a
booster as a way for the booster to channel money to the student-athlete.
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