This stuff just gets dumber and dumber and dumber…
The Chamber of Commerce in Colfax, Washington, recently decided to stage an event that would pay special tribute to Gardner Minshew, the mustachioed Washington State quarterback.
The celebration even carried his name – “Gardner Minshew Days,” a two-day festivity scheduled for this week on Main Street, 16 miles from campus in Pullman.
But the name is a problem, according to NCAA rules. It’s also another example of how the NCAA and its members control the controversial system of “amateurism” in college sports.
“We just wanted to celebrate him and the Cougs,” said Valoree Gregory, the chamber’s executive director.
The chamber planned to have local businesses give away fake mustaches before Friday’s big game against Washington, joining a local craze that’s seen hundreds of Cougar fans wearing fake mustaches in honor of Minshew, the nation’s leading passer.
It all seemed innocent enough, at least until the chamber received a cease-and-desist notice from the NCAA rules compliance staff at WSU.
“In accordance with NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199, Washington State University requests you cease the production and display of advertisements, and the possible distribution of any products using Gardner Minshew’s name and likeness,” WSU’s letter to the chamber said on Nov. 7.
So the event changed its name to “Mustache Madness” and removed his photo. It still will go on as planned and still references Minshew on its website, just not by name.
“We are honoring our favorite WSU quarterback by giving out FREE mustaches” on Wednesday and Friday, the website said.
Colfax (population 2,900) still hopes it adds to the fun surrounding Friday’s Apple Cup in Pullman. Minshew, a graduate transfer from East Carolina, has led the eighth-ranked Cougars (9-1) to one of their best seasons ever, making his mustache so popular that Washington State has tried to capitalize on it, too.
Last week, WSU revved up its Heisman Trophy campaign for Minshew by mailing media members fake mustaches with instructions to “vote for Minshew!”
Minshew can’t control the use of his name. Fans can’t use his name, even in a non-profit setting. Only the school can use his name.
Finally, it dawns on me: amateurism as Animal House.