The sports memorabilia business is no joke and each year millions of dollars are spent by fans and collectors who seek autographs, equipment and other memorabilia from their favorite athletes.
This certainly is nothing new to Kansas University sports fans, many of whom spend hours after basketball games waiting for their favorite players to come out and sign autographs, but what went down Wednesday may be a first.
Tuesday night I came across a post on craigslist.com that advertised “100% authentic” Andrew Wiggins practice gear for sale.
The post included five photographs of practice shorts, a practice shirt and a pair of adidas high-top shoes that the seller claimed were autographed by Wiggins, the No. 1 hoops recruit in the Class of 2013 whom KU landed back in May.
The entry said the price for the gear was negotiable and also referenced that a friend of the seller’s was one of the head managers for the KU basketball team.
When I placed a phone call to the number listed to see how the seller got the gear or if it was, in fact, legit, I talked to a young man who claimed that his buddy had posted the items for sale. Understandably, he did not give out any more information than that and said he had to go because he was at work. Within five minutes the post had been deleted and in its place was an empty screen that simply read, “This posting has been deleted by its author.”
Although this specific post was taken down, there remained another post right next to it with similar wording that offered Andrew Wiggins and Mario Chalmers’ autographed shoes. However, that post included a different phone number. I’ve been told that these types of advertisements have appeared on the site throughout the summer and began showing up shortly after Wiggins arrived in town. Big surprise.
KU associate athletic director for public affairs Jim Marchiony said KU’s team managers in all sports are told specifically not to distribute team gear to anyone other than coaches and players.
“No question about it,” Marchiony said. “They know what’s right and what’s wrong. And I have a hard time believing that one of our managers would do something like this.”
Marchiony’s main concern was finding out where the gear came from and if it was legitimate. Regardless, he said its existence as an item for sale on craigslist did not reflect poorly on Wiggins in any way. That, from where Kansas fans sit, is welcome news considering the hot water that Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel finds himself in for allegedly autographing and profiting from signed helmets and a stack of photographs featuring the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner.
By day’s end, Marchiony said KU officials had collected the gear from the would-be seller. Marchiony said he was confident that the signatures on the memorabilia were not penned by Wiggins in the first place.
Add the entire fiasco to the list of things that get put on a university athletic department’s plate when the projected No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA Draft comes to town.
One of these days soon, Wiggins is going to be allowed to simply play basketball and that should make everything else around him irrelevant.