Column: As NCAA rule change looms, impossible not think about Jeremy Bloom

Chase Howell

As the news dropped on Wednesday morning that the NCAA board approves of a rule change to allow athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness, the first thing that comes to mind is finally. 

I start thinking about all of the possibilities for athletes in the future, the ability to have cash in hand just by doing a simple Instagram or Tik Tok post. This is a monumental decision and it is the athletes that are going to benefitting. 

When was the last time you could say that about the NCAA?

But it's impossible to take in the news today and not think about what could have been?

Yup, this is about Jeremy Bloom.

There are hundreds of athletes in sports all across the NCAA that could have benefitted from this but one of the biggest victims of the system was right here at the University of Colorado. 

Bloom is still owed two seasons of football.

He was a skiing prodigy before he even stepped foot on campus in Boulder. At the age of 15, he was the youngest male freeskier to make the United States Ski Team.

When he enrolled in college, he was doing the NCAA a favor. 

"The solution in my mind is to allow high school students, when they graduate from high school, if they really feel like a professional career in athletics is their goal, is there a way that they can bypass college sports?" Chancellor Phil DiStefano said in an interview earlier this year. 

There is a general consensus the one-and-done rule needs to be changed in basketball. The NCAA and UCLA lost a five-star basketball player to the G-League this week. So DiStefano definitely has a point there. 

College basketball fans will still watch college basketball even if the best players didn't play. 

But it is really difficult to do that with football. 

Bloom could have easily turned professional skiing and left football by the wayside. But he loved football. And he loved Colorado Buffaloes football. 

Football players can't go straight to the pros out of high school. Or if they could, there's not necessarily a precedent for it. 

Bloom had no choice but to go to college if he wanted to advance his football career. 

Football players need more time to develop, more than 99% of 18-year-olds haven't developed enough physically for them to go straight to the NFL.

Bloom was a world champion skier before he ever played college football. He was already a prominent name to Olympic fans. He was the next great American skier.

The NCAA could have embraced that. They could have used him as the face of college sports. A "student-athlete" so passionate about his school and football that he bypassed a lot of professional opportunities to play on Folsom Field. 

Exactly the type of athlete that the NCAA could've embraced. Instead, they banned him from playing his final two seasons of eligibility in football because he accepted sponsorships to pay for his Olympic ski training.

“Just being able to pay for my training would have been, that was the basis of my case," Bloom said earlier this year in an interview with Forbes. "I mean, talk about the cherry on top if I could have done anything with my name, image and likeness, that would have been me getting everything I wanted because that goes over and above and just paying for expenses you can actually make money, which I think is fair and right."

Bloom didn't even try to profit off of his name, image and likeness. He just wanted to pay the bills. 

And the NCAA shunned him.

Now 15 years later, in a rule change that could go into effect a year from now, the NCAA would have never banned Bloom from playing football. 

They are finally doing the right thing. Yes, they were pushed by state governments, such as California and Colorado, that pushed for legislation aiding the athletes in profiting off of their name, image and likeness.

And yes, it is 15 years too late. And yes, nothing is final and this is just a recommendation from the board.

But it finally appears like Jeremy Bloom is getting his justice.

The NCAA owes him an apology. 

But the biggest question is: Does Jeremy still have that 4.3 speed?

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