Viewers of the World Series Tuesday night got an unexpected surprise during a commercial break when Chevrolet debuted its new Spike Lee-directed spot starring Mo’ne Davis, the 13-year-old who became a national sensation while pitching in the Little League World Series.
Within seconds, social media began wondering whether her paid appearance in the ad would render her ineligible to play NCAA sports given that college athletes are not allowed to profit from their name, image and likeness. During the Little League World Series, the 13-year old Davis said her dream was to play college basketball for the UConn women’s team.
The NCAA moved quickly to squash the uncertainty. Shortly after the ad ran, the organization released a statement saying the commercial would not impact Davis’ amateur status.
“Since January, NCAA Division 1 membership gave staff more flexibility to consider unique circumstances when determining eligibility,” according to the statement, which was not attributed to a specific person. “The NCAA staff’s decision was made within this process and based on a combination of considerations. This waiver narrowly extends the rules – which allow Davis to accept the payment and still be eligible in any other sport – to include baseball. The NCAA staff also considered the historically limited opportunities for women to participate in professional baseball. In addition, Davis is much younger than when the vast majority of the prospect rules apply. While this situation is unusual, the flexible approach utilized in this decision is not.”
In other words, notes USA Today, “the NCAA staff used some latitude within the rules – and arguably some common sense – to determine that a 13-year old who gained fame playing Little League baseball is not necessarily related to eligibility for an NCAA-sanctioned sport. It’s not even clear whether Davis is or will become a prospect whose skills merit being recruited by UConn or any other women’s basketball program.”
(Photo: AP/Video Source: YouTube)