Commercial Starring Little Leaguer Mo'ne Davis Has No Effect on NCAA Eligibility
Mo'ne Davis, the breakout star from this summer's Little League World Series, made headlines Tuesday when a Chevrolet commercial starring her debuted online.
"Dear United States of America," the advertisement begins. "I am 13 years old. This summer was the best summer of my young life." She goes on to say that she "stand[s] for girls who want to play sports with the boys, and to be a role model for people, both young and old."
Davis, who became the first Little Leaguer to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated, made clear her intention to pursue a basketball career in college during following her team's electric run to the U.S. semifinals at the Little League World Series this summer. "I want to go to UConn and be the point guard on the basketball team," Davis told ESPN, per John Altavilla of the Hartford Courant. "That's like my dream and then go into the WNBA." (Accordingly, UConn women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma found himself in a bit of hot water for congratulating Davis after the LLWS.)
The commercial raised eyebrows initially given the NCAA's strict restrictions on prospective student-athletes being compensated for their likenesses. However, the association clarified Tuesday evening that the commercial would have no bearing on her future athletic eligibility:
Mo'ne Davis may be paid for appearing in the Chevy commercial without impacting her NCAA eligibility.— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) October 22, 2014
The NCAA later explained the rationale behind the decision:
Explanation on why Mo'ne Davis may be paid for appearing in Chevy commercial without impacting NCAA eligibility: pic.twitter.com/EGKlqYkdoL— Inside the NCAA (@InsidetheNCAA) October 22, 2014
Following the LLWS, some sports marketing experts estimated her annual commercial value to be as high as $100,000, per Forbes.com. However, eligibility concerns thwarted at least one opportunity, according to the site:
Her stepfather has already stated that he rejected an inquiry made regarding a book deal for Mo'ne out of concern over her future eligibility. These concerns are justified given the recent court decisions and now internal NCAA decisions concerning the compensation of athletes who still retain collegiate eligibility. Specifically, the NCAA has held in prior decisions that a collegiate athlete can be a professional in one sport, and still retain amateur status in another.
Her stepfather, Mark Williams, explained to The New York Times why they rejected the potential book deal.
"At the end of the day, she has a dream to play for UConn, so we're not taking anything until we're clear on that, because her dream is her dream," Williams said. "That's her decision. We're not taking anything. None of us would like to ruin that dream."
According to the Times, officials at Davis' school were also "trying to determine whether league bylaws governed her ability to accept endorsements and remain eligible for varsity sports."
Based on the NCAA's response Tuesday night, Davis has one less thing to worry about regarding her college eligibility. Given that her popularity stemmed from the Little League World Series, it appears to be a win-win situation for her to be able to promote her baseball skills without jeopardizing her chances to play college basketball.
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