Andrew Wiggins' KU basketball gear appearing and disappearing on craigslist


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 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.


Jim Erickson 8 years, 9 months ago

If he needs some cash for autographs, I know a guy...

Suzi Marshall 8 years, 9 months ago

I've alway felt bad for the players with regards to this sort of thing. Everybody but the players themselves can make some money. Why can't a "tip jar" be set up for the players to split up when they do those autograph sessons?

Ron Prichard 8 years, 9 months ago

I have never felt bad for the players but I don't begrudge them, either. High profile players such as almost all of the KU basketball players, let alone Wiggins, are treated like kings from the moment they arrive on campus. A KU basketball player receives a full ride scholarship to a respected university. They also receive room and board or some sort of compensation for their living situation. They also receive some sort of monthly stipend/refund that has been discussed on this site but I don't fully understand. Finally, they are provided with all the food they care to eat, a veritable suitcase of athletic clothing and gear throughout the year, first class trips to exotic or exciting locations (Atlantis, Bahamas this year), national exposure and the adoration of hundreds of thousands of fans. It is a good gig. Over four years at KU the benefits are probably worth well over $100,000. At many east coast schools I would imagine the value is over $250,000 for four years. These are kids whose peers are lucky to earn $10 an hour somewhere if they aren't in school or are in school and are working part time.

Plus, if you allow a "tip jar" at an autograph signing, what is to stop a wealthy donor from "tipping" $10,000? If you think it wouldn't happen, you are naive. It would turn into a sanctioned bidding war for players. UK donor tips $10,000 at "autograph signing" one week after recruits arrive on campus. UCLA donor tips $20,000 at school book store merchandise signing. KU donor "tips" $25,000 at basketball tailgate/autograph signing before a KU football game.

Finally, does Wiggins get all the tips if he is the only one at the signing? Does Christian Garrett get the same amount of "tips" if he signs with Perry Ellis? No one is crying for AWIII or Christian Moody or even Kevin Young to get the same money as Wiggins or McLemore or TRobb. Are you going to pay football players the same as basketball players? What about women's basketball? What about swimming or even baseball?

Once you open the can of worms, you will never be able to get the lid back on. That is what the NCAA is so fearful of and I really don't blame them. I don't want college athletics to lose what little amateurism it has left. These kids are well taken care of, and they aren't forced to do anything they don't want to do. They WANT to play college sports at the highest level. It is a choice that they make. If they want to get paid, they could go overseas for a year and then go to the NBA. The NCAA is simply an option with its own rewards other than playing for pay. If you think things are a mess now, allow college athletes to be paid and watch about half of the D1 schools immediately go into the red on their budgets.

Joseph Kuebel 8 years, 9 months ago

Rapruchard- I used to think that revenue sport athletes should be shd be allowed to make extra cash. Now I am closer to the stance that you are. It's not an easy thing to discern how much one player should get over another. On the other hand, the NCAA and the university do end up profiting so much (off basketball and football-and slightly off baseball) that they end up paying for the rest of the athletic dept budgets of swim team, soccer, rowing, etc. It's difficult as they essentially refuse a basketball and football players right to earn a living (for 1 yr in Bball, 2 in fball) something that in essentially every other occupations in the U.S. does not hold up in court.

Now my stance has changed, somewhat. I believe in most cases it benefits the athlete long term to go to college (I think for instance Selby staying an extra year would have allowed him to stick long term in the League, and would allow him to make 10+ mill long term than he's now on course to accumulate in lifetime earnings). Hearing Brandon Jennings- who did choose to play ball in Europe (and bypassed college) says he wish he would have gone to college for a year. I think it's not really fair monetarily that the two major revenue sports pay for the swimming and rowing teams, but I think it's correct in the long term.

I do think that there should be a system in place however that allows some sort of income for players who's numbers, height, weight are set up on NCAA video games, several years later (see Frank and Ed O'bannon who are still being featured in all-vintage NCAA teams even this year). I think a small percentage of licensing should be given to said player (all in equal amounts after 4 years- this encourages graduation and financially seems to be the best method). This is what the NCAA athlete lawsuits are about, and seemingly will be a big issue (according to ESPN) in the near future. However, while in college the $2,000 stipend, free food, gear, team meals, hotels/vacations to the Bahamas... that is plenty good enough whether it be a basketball star (for 1 year, and you can take out insurance on yourself) or a rowing team backup... Knowing that years later while out of college you will be compensated for video games, a % of jersey sales, etc. However, I do see your point that it does open a fairly large can of worms.

Joe Baker 8 years, 9 months ago

WWW's $$$ didn't work because Wig's parents have money. Wigs doesn't need money. I love it. I think his mom and dad have done a great job with him in regards to this money thing. He doesn't seem to want money. He seems competitive and wants to play basketball. He knows his own money will come soon enough and wants a great college experience.

actorman 8 years, 9 months ago

"... each year millions of dollars are spent by fans and collectors to gather autographs, equipment and other memorable mementos from some of their favorite athletes."

Yeah, but how much is spent on memorabilia from athletes OTHER than Johnny Manziel?

Steve Jacob 8 years, 9 months ago

Read is the NCAA was a business, it's net growth since 1980 is 8% a year, better then McDonald's. The NCAA will soon lose in court and start paying players, and all hell will break lose.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 9 months ago

"...and all hell will break lose." That is the understatement of the year.

741hawk 8 years, 9 months ago

I predict that this issue,when resolved, will be the end of the NCAA because the NCAA will not be able to pay the court-sanctioned royalties. That will lead to a new organization for the "big schools" -- i.e. 4 super conferences in football / a limited number of Division 1 basketball schools, etc.

Titus Canby 8 years, 9 months ago

Hilarious Seinfeld reference. Thanks for making my day, Matthew.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 9 months ago

Before anyone brings up the video game issue, if given the option of having your likeness (not your name, but just your likeness) in a video game but you didn't get paid for it, versus not having your likeness in a game, what would you choose? Kids think--and rightfully so--that it is cool to have a video game that is played worldwide have a character in it that represents their likeness. "So what if I'm not getting paid, I'm in a video game, bro!" Talk about bragging rights with your buddies later in life. There are very few of us on this message board that would say no to that even if we didn't get paid one cent.

Robin Smith 8 years, 9 months ago

If the games didn't feature likenesses then they wouldn't be played worldwide. Sports video game franchises are built on the idea that people will part with last years and buy this years for the roster's sake. New 'improved' game play is nice, but that's not what motivates the yearly haul the games make.

It was a big coup for NBA2Kwhatever when Jordan granted the rights to his likeness. It was the entire marketing angle.

Ron Prichard 8 years, 9 months ago

I completely agree with you. My point is simply that if given the option to opt out or have their likeness in a game but not receive compensation for it, I think the vast majority of players would allow their likeness to be used. There might be a few holdouts here and there, but I'm guessing over 95% of the players would allow their likeness.

Jeff Coffman 8 years, 9 months ago

If you buy that I've got some ocean front property in let's go with Kansas to prevent from infringing on a copyright.

orbiter 8 years, 9 months ago

"Before anyone brings up the video game issue, if given the option of having your likeness (not your name, but just your likeness) in a video game but you didn't get paid for it, versus not having your likeness in a game, what would you choose?"

--Ridiculous. Bragging rights as payment? Seriously? Who do you work for? EA or the NCAA? Or have you just never wanted or worked for anything?

Ron Prichard 8 years, 9 months ago

Actually I work for a lot of things, thank you very much. So allow incoming players to either sign a waiver to allow their likeness to appear in the video games or allow them to opt out. See how many decide to opt out.

REHawk 8 years, 9 months ago

This is the kind of news which leads to investigations. If, indeed, someone clocking dollars or reduced tuition while working for Kansas Athletics actually was involved in posting these sale items, then it is time for Marchiony and Co. to rattle some cages bigtime. The last thing we need is for Andrew Wiggins to be forced to sit out a nine game suspension, a la J. Selby. Although Andrew might be completely innocent or unaware of the situation, his name is likely to be linked to the case of Johnny Manziel; and the perception by some sportsfans will turn negative in a heartbeat.

REHawk 8 years, 9 months ago

Good word, "dupe." I really do suspect that this situation will blow away quickly, with no lasting detritus.

Joseph Kuebel 8 years, 9 months ago

It's not hundreds of autographs a la Manziel... It's 1 pair of shoes, shorts and shirt. Not even close. The trailor park mentality aka Manziel (the kid needs proper parenting). Advocating having license plates says jff mom and jff dad shows real class. Trash.

justanotherfan 8 years, 9 months ago

All of these issues just keep showing that the NCAA thinking and rule book is completely backwards and ridiculous.

Texas A&M could have Manziel autograph a football and sell that football at auction for whatever amount of money someone would pay for it - probably a pretty fair amount - and the university could keep that money for themselves. There is no argument that could convince me that its fair to say Manziel (or any other high profile college athlete) should somehow not be entitled to get some portion of that profit, considering it's THEIR AUTOGRAPH that has the value.

The whole argument about getting an education is frankly ridiculous. There are hundreds of kids at these same universities that are on academic scholarships. There are absolutely NO RULES that prevent them from profiting from their skills while on campus. If you are a biology student on academic scholarship, no one begrudges you if you earn some money by doing research, or by working for a doctor's office or pharmacy or whatever. No one is clamoring for sanctions if a pre-law student gets a free lunch from a prominent attorney. No one says a thing if a business person gives an MBA student a cushy internship just because they attended their alma mater. These things happen EVERY SINGLE DAY and no one bats an eye, but for athletes it is somehow different.

The-you're-on-scholarship-at-a-prestigious-university-and-that's-a-privilege way of thinking has been the NCAA's saving grace for almost three decades now, but that way of thinking is dying. The NCAA will lose it's control over D-1 football soon, probably in less than a decade. When that happens, D-1 men's and women's basketball will follow. News flash, folks - over 90% of the NCAA's revenue is generated by men's and women's basketball (D-1). The NCAA simply cannot pay its bills if the D-1 member schools decide to break away.

Times are a-changing. As 741hawk said above, the major schools are going to break away eventually. Remember during conference realignment when the NCAA just sat on the sidelines while schools shifted all over the country. They were powerless to do anything. The presidents, ADs and conference commissioners knew that then, and everyone else recognizes it now. The SEC, Big 10, ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and Notre Dame will probably break away to form a new structure regulated by the conference commissioners (similar to the way the BCS was/ is, but in all sports). And when that happens, players will get paid.

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