When Akron requested the right to wear its men's basketball Twitter handle on the back of its jerseys Saturday night against Ohio, NCAA officials undoubtedly faced a nightmarish PR dilemma.
One option was to grant the request only days after denying Iowa the right to wear Chris Street's last name on the back of its jerseys in honor of the 20th anniversary of his death. The other option was to turn down Akron's request as well, killing a clever idea by the Zips to increase their Twitter following as part of their Social Media Day promotion.
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Not surprisingly the NCAA chose the latter approach. Akron announced Monday evening that "@ZipsMBB" will appear on the back of their shooting shirts during warmups on Saturday night but not on the backs of their jerseys.
"We had asked the NCAA if this was permissible and were told it is not," Akron Associate Athletics Director for External Relations Dan Satter said in a statement. "@ZipsMBB will appear on our shooting shirts, and we have planned plenty of other social media activities and promotions."
Under NCAA rules, teams are only allowed to have the name of a player, institution or mascot on the back of its jersey. The NCAA apparently has been reluctant to waive this rule under any circumstances because it fears there will be too many frivolous requests for exceptions.
Akron's Twitter-friendly jerseys aren't nearly as significant a cause as Iowa's attempt to honor a deceased former star, yet there's really no good reason not to grant the Zips permission to wear them. They were unusual enough to draw some buzz for a perennial MAC contender, and what's the harm in that?
The Bylaw Blog's John Infante floated the idea of the NCAA making a rule allowing teams to ignore any limit on the nameplate for one game per year. While that's better than the existing rule, why have any limit at all? Schools should have the right to control their own brand as they see fit.
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