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Northwestern reportedly will stop selling jerseys of current players

According to ESPN's Darren Rovell, Northwestern will be among three schools not selling the jersey numbers of current players this year. Texas A&M and Arizona will also only sell generic jerseys.

From ESPN:

Northwestern will limit sales to No. 51, which was used by current head coach Pat Fitzgerald during his heralded playing career.

Northwestern might have been more encouraged to stop selling individual player jerseys as its football players took a vote in April whether to unionize. The results of the vote, taken in the presence of the National Labor Relations Board, are not yet known.

Update: I confirmed the news with NU and got the following information: "The only pre-made jerseys we will sell this season will have #51 on them. Blanks will still be available to purchase and customize as fans see fit, as they always have. This was in discussions well before the NLRB situation."

The NCAA and its schools have long contended that players' likenesses are not used in video games or jersey sales, and that the numbers selected are random. However, court documents have shown that real player names were hidden in video games, and last year, search results on the NCAA's online store showed they tied jersey numbers to specific players. It's getting increasingly difficult for schools to maintain that jersey sales are random, and NU must have seen that.

As Jon Davis points out, this is likely a perception move based on the general outrage over the possibly illegal use of athletes' likenesses, rather than a legal one. Jersey sales aren't worth much in the scheme of things.

Does this mean you'll never be able to buy current players' jerseys again? Probably not. If the O'Bannon plaintiffs win, that means players will be able to receive money for the use of their likenesses, and schools will likely bring back the popular jerseys and give the athletes a cut of the profits. But for now, you'll have to settle with Fitz jerseys.