BOULDER, Colo. — The NCAA was given too much leeway when a judge refused Jeremy Bloom's request to earn endorsement money as a world-ranked moguls skier while he played football at Colorado, the athlete's attorney said Wednesday.
At a hearing inside an auditorium at the university's law school, attorney Peter Rush told a three-judge panel of the Colorado Court of Appeals that District Judge Dan Hale erred when he denied Bloom's request. But NCAA attorney Linda Salfrank countered by arguing that NCAA rules are clear in stating college athletes are not allowed to accept endorsement income from any source, whether related to his or her college sport or professional sport.
Some of Bloom's football teammates attended the hearing, as well as Coach Gary Barnett, who is currently under suspension while the school investigates allegations of sexual improprieties made against some of his players.
After the 40-minute hearing, Wally Renfro, special assistant to NCAA President Myles Brand, said an exception should not be made in Bloom's case "because that would send the NCAA down a very slippery slope."
Renfro said that if rules prohibiting endorsement income were waived for Bloom, "we would soon have all sorts of athletes asking for exceptions and signing endorsement opportunities."
Bloom, who is ranked No. 3 in the world in moguls skiing, filed suit against the NCAA in the winter of 2002 and Hale ruled against him -- making him ineligible to play football -- in August of that year.
With his appeal to that decision pending, Bloom went ahead and signed endorsement contracts in January.
He has played wide receiver for the Buffaloes for two seasons and has two years of eligibility remaining.
"It's up to the court now," Bloom said. "It will be incredibly hard for me if I'm not on the football field when September comes."
Renfro said the NCAA rules allowed Bloom to accept prize money and training expenses from the U.S. ski team. But Bloom said that with the approach of the 2006 Olympics, he needed to employ personal trainers and nutritionists as the other world-class skiers do and commit to out-of-season travel, which is not covered by the ski team.
"We very much wish to see Jeremy Bloom play football," Renfro said, "and we believe the rules in place would allow him to pursue all his dreams."
Rush noted Wednesday that the NCAA allowed athletes to be professionals in sports in which they don't compete in college, and he said those who make endorsement money should be treated the same.
The appellate panel has unlimited time to consider its ruling. Bloom hopes a decision is made in time for him to participate in preseason football practice in August.