Texas A&M cross country runner Ryan Trahan claims that he has been ruled ineligible after using his name, image, and likeness as an Aggies athlete on his YouTube page to promote a water bottle company that he started before enrolling at the university.
The NCAA has come under fire in recent years for rules that prohibit student athletes from earning money off of their own image, which effectively prevents amateurs from doing endorsement deals of any kind.
As Trahan explained on YouTube, he spoke about his company with an academic advisor, who instructed Trahan to fill out a waiver that would allow him to continue in his role as co-owner of Neptune Bottles. Unfortunately for him, until the matter is settled, he will remain ineligible.
Ryan planned on meeting with the Texas A&M compliance team on Thursday morning to decide between two complicated options.
‘I can either be a runner that does not own a company,’ he said. ‘I can make no references to my company, but I can post running videos and let people know that I’m at Texas A&M and I’m on the cross country and track team. But, like I said, I can have no reference, no correlation to my company on social media. Basically [I] have to hide the fact that I own this company that I’m so proud of … [S]o that’s one option.
‘The other option is I can own the company,’ he continued. ‘I can let people know I own the company. I can promote it all I want but I can’t let anyone know that I run cross country and track for Texas A&M. I can’t post any running videos. I can’t Vlog any of my meets anymore. I can’t make any references to Texas A&M on social media — that’s probably including Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and everything. It’s really a crossroads and that’s something that’s really been on my mind lately and it’s a tough decision.’
Texas A&M freshman runner Ryan Trahan’s YouTube channel has over 14,000 subscribers
Trahan launched his water bottle company before enrolling at Texas A&M
In adherence with NCAA rules, Ryan didn’t use his image or likeness on his company’s website
Trahan, whose YouTube page has over 14,000 subscribers, specifically did not blame Texas A&M or its compliance team, which he says is simply doing its job.
The real issue, as Trahan sees it, is the NCAA, an organization that allows itself to use athletes’ images for any number of commercial interests.
‘It just baffles my mind the way the NCAA runs things,’ he said. ‘The NCAA is literally a commercialized multimillion dollar industry. It’s an industry that uses only athletes to create revenue.
‘I don’t understand how I’m allowed to have a job working at McDonald’s while being a student athlete but I can’t have a company that I’m passionate about that I’ve been working on for over a year now and keep my identity,’ he continued.
ESPN college basketball analyst and former Duke center Jay Bilas rushed to Trahan’s defense
Some, like ESPN college basketball analyst and former Duke center Jay Bilas, have suggested that the NCAA should pay its student athletes, but Trahan doesn’t agree.
‘I don’t necessarily think that student athletes should get pay checks or salaries or this or that even though the NCAA is run like every single other professional sports league,’ he said.
While Trahan and Bilas do not see eye to eye on the issue of salaries for student athletes, Bilas did rush the collegiate freshman’s defense on Wednesday.
‘So, if this college runner runs AND runs his company, he’s a ‘threat to integrity’?’ Bilas asked on Twitter. ‘Is that what the NCAA should be about?’