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The shady game-worn Northwestern sports memorabilia market on EBay

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Not paying players is lame, but this just adds insult to injury, in a way.

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Someone, somewhere is profiting off the names of Northwestern football players.

On one of my many trips through the eBay catalog, I noticed that there were quite a few people buying and selling pieces of Northwestern football memorabilia. Old tickets stubs, banners, and signed photos were on sale. That’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. Then, I decided to sort by highest price.

I found this:

Someone sold Northwestern linebacker Joe Jones’ jersey for $199 on eBay. This is, kinda odd, right? Under NCAA policy, no one is supposed to profit off using a player’s likeness. That’s how Todd Gurley got suspended at Georgia a few years ago. That’s why we don’t have any more NCAA Football video games. That’s why most schools have stopped selling jerseys with players’ names. And yet, somehow, the eBay market for game worn jerseys has suddenly become a thing.

This isn’t just a one-off sale from the user “d1jerseys” (you can find his profile here). Northwestern football game-worn jerseys are going for $170-250 a pop on eBay, and no one appears to know where or how this guy got all this gear. The descriptions for the items are purposefully vague and have no useful information on where he acquired these items.

Maybe they’re fake. NCAA athletes usually are not allowed to keep their jerseys, helmets or equipment after they play (although I’m sure somebody has, at some point, kept something or other), so either these jerseys are completely fake, or they have been acquired from a university in a mass sale. Either way, the optics of someone making hundreds of dollars off players’ likenesses ex post facto are not great.

“d1jerseys” seems to have any NCAA game-worn memorabilia you want. The user has 1,894 listings of NCAA material, and there’s no chance the user got permission to sell all of it. Like, where did d1jerseys get these game worn Duke football jerseys?

Where did d1jerseys get some random Northwestern player’s shorts from the Outback Bowl?

Those certainly don’t look fake. I mean, I highly, highly doubt this user went through the trouble of getting custom Outback Bowl patches and Northwestern logos sewn onto a pair of 3XL shorts for a $35 sale.

Actually, I’m willing to bet that a large amount of this stuff is genuine. There is not a chance anyone would go to great lengths to recreate former Northwestern lacrosse player Samantha Santulli’s authentic jersey.

How the heck did d1jerseys acquire Tino Malnati’s No. 21 practice jersey from last season (Tino is the only player to wear No. 21 for Northwestern basketball in years)? Hello? Did Tino give one of his jerseys from his first-ever season in college basketball to d1jerseys for free? I highly, highly doubt he needs the spending money, so how did this jersey get in d1jersey’s possession?

Say what you want about paying college athletics, this eBay account is shady. At the very least, this account is hoarding large amounts of college memorabilia and then selling it to fans, almost certainly without giving the profits to the university or the athletes. And this isn’t just for football. You can buy West Virginia wrestling singlets, Wisconsin men’s soccer jerseys, or pay $27,000 for an Aaron Judge jersey from when he played at Fresno State.

Is Fresno State or Aaron Judge receiving a penny of this? Probably not.

I don’t doubt the authenticity of these jerseys. The account in question has 377 positive ratings in its history, which means these must be legit and arrive to the buyer quickly. If these were fake, someone would’ve noticed by now. To make sure, I decided to buy the cheapest possible item, a pair of Citadel football pants.

They are most definitely real Citadel football pants. Go Citadel! I have no idea why you would think reselling Citadel football pants is a good idea, but now I own this pair of pants. It’s very exciting, I swear.

I tried to direct message d1jerseys multiple times about the memorabilia. To my surprise, d1jerseys responded almost immediately.

“Bulk purchase from the school,” the user said. The user confirmed that D1 Jerseys purchased all of this old apparel from Northwestern in bulk and then put it up for sale.

That is probably the legitimate explanation. The account says it’s located in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, which makes this seem quite plausible. d1jerseys also has a Twitter account, where they make no secret of reselling used NCAA athletic gear from all across the country for huge profits.

I find this all to be very strange, and I have no idea whether this is compliant with NCAA rules. It’s certainly an excellent business opportunity.