Colorado congressman goes to bat for Jeremy Bloom in NCAA dispute

Colorado congressman goes to bat for Jeremy Bloom in NCAA dispute{mosimage}A Colorado congressman is asking the NCAA to allow Jeremy Bloom to play college football while collecting money for ski endorsements.

Bloom, a Colorado receiver and kick returner, says the ban could force him to leave school because he can’t afford to continue his freestyle skiing career without endorsements.

In a letter released Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Mark Udall asked the NCAA to reconsider its refusal to give Bloom a waiver so he can finance his training for the 2006 Olympics.

The letter, dated April 29, says Udall supports maintaining the amateur nature of college athletics.

“However, I think there is room for interpreting the rules with sufficient flexibility to allow Jeremy to both play football and to represent the United States in the Winter Olympics,” Udall wrote.

NCAA spokesman Jeff Howard said association President Myles Brand will respond to Udall, but Howard did not know what Brand would say.

Bloom has filed a lawsuit challenging the NCAA, but last week the Colorado Court of Appeals denied his request for an injunction that would have allowed him to collect endorsements and play college football while the suit proceeds.

The appeals court agreed with a lower court that Bloom failed to show he would probably win the lawsuit. The court said it’s up to the NCAA to decide whether Bloom could collect endorsements and play football.

Bloom said the ruling was a bigger disappointment than he expected.

“Going into the appeals court last week, I thought I was prepared in case they ruled against me. I would be at peace with it. I learned a lesson. You’re never prepared to lose something you are passionate about,” he said.

Bloom is in Colorado Springs, training for the Olympics and trying to rehabilitate an injured knee. He said he was unsure of his next move.

“I think it’s important to have support from a congressman. This will encourage the NCAA to look into the matter,” Bloom said.

It would be better for Congress to resolve the issue than the courts, he said.

Udall’s spokesman, Lawrence Pacheco, said legislation to force the NCAA’s hand is possible but would be difficult to pass.

Bloom said the NCAA solicited athletes to appear at a meeting in June in Indianapolis to discuss endorsements, but his request to appear was rejected.

“I wanted to tell them the challenges of an individual athlete. They told me they were looking for athletes to appear at the meeting, but they didn’t want me,” Bloom said.

Howard said the meeting will focus on promotional activities on campus, not endorsement questions like Bloom’s.

– From the Associated Press



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