Vanderbilt Law Review


Joel Eckert

First Page



Jeremy Bloom is the defending World Champion in moguls skiing, representing the United States in this discipline at both the 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics. Bloom also played football for the University of Colorado from 2002 to 2003 where he established two Colorado football records. Before enrolling at Colorado in 2002, Bloom had endorsed numerous products and desired to continue doing so throughout his time in college so that he could fund his skiing career.

The National Collegiate Athletics Association ("NCAA") allows student-athletes ("athletes" or "student-athletes") to compete professionally and receive salaries in sports other than those for which they compete in college. However, it does not allow athletes to receive endorsements of any kind. When Bloom decided to attend the University of Colorado, the school applied to the NCAA for a waiver of the prohibition on student-athletes receiving endorsements so that Bloom could use these endorsements to enable him to pursue his skiing career while playing college football. However, the NCAA refused this request. Bloom sought relief from the Colorado state court system where a trial court ruled against his request for a preliminary injunction in 2002. After relinquishing his endorsements for two years so that he could play college football, Bloom accepted an endorsement deal in March of 2004 because, in his words, "I was certain that with the Olympic Games looming only 2 years away that I could not afford to continue in this manner and have a chance to achieve my objective of winning an Olympic Gold Medal for my country in 2006."

After accepting these endorsements in violation of NCAA policy, Bloom's only hope of continuing his collegiate football career, in the absence of a softened stance by the NCAA, lay in his pending appeal. A Colorado appellate court, however, affirmed the lower court's denial of the preliminary injunction. Nonetheless, the court held that Bloom had standing to sue the NCAA as a third-party beneficiary to the contract between the NCAA and its member schools. Although previous cases had indicated that student- athletes might be third-party beneficiaries, this decision marked the first time that a court acknowledged unequivocally that student- athletes have contract rights under the NCAA Constitution and Bylaws ("NCAA Constitution" or "Constitution"). In granting student-athletes standing to sue the NCAA, the Colorado court of appeals implicitly recognized that the interests of universities, the NCAA, and student-athletes are often misaligned as a result of the pervasive commercialism in big-time college sports.

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