Why KU’s Justin Wesley couldn’t talk about his role in ‘Jayhawkers’

By RUSTIN DODD
The Wichita Eagle

LAWRENCE — The NCAA has a lot of rules. Here are a couple more.

Kansas senior forward Justin Wesley was able to be cast in a lead role of the movie “Jayhawkers”, which premiered on Friday in Lawrence. He could be paid and everything. But at the official premiere, Wesley could not say a word about his performance or the film in general.

Why?

During the playing season, the NCAA does not allow athletes to “make any endorsement, expressed or implied, of any commercial product or service.”

Upon request, the KU compliance office supplied the specific bylaws and rules that barred Wesley from talking about his first starring film role.

Here’s the explanation:

Based on bylaw 12.4.1, Wesley could be paid for his role in the movie. As long as it was “(a) Only for work actually performed; and (b) At a rate commensurate with the going rate in that locality
for similar services.”

But based on bylaw 12.5.3, which deals with “media services”, Wesley couldn’t talk about the film on Friday. He’d be, based on one interpretation, endorsing a commercial product. They sold tickets
last night, and the makers of the film are presumably trying to make some money on the film.

As far as NCAA policies and bylaws go, this one probably isn’t worth a grand protest. But it is interesting. Most KU basketball players do dozens of media interviews each season, essentially
promoting and implicitly endorsing the product of Kansas basketball and college hoops. They sell tickets to KU basketball games, too, you know, so those media interviews certainly help the school
and program.

In some ways, Wesley’s role in “Jayhawkers” wasn’t all that different. He was working with a KU film professor — director Kevin Wilmott — doing something educational and constructive with his time,
and exploring another potential career path. (Wesley has previously expressed interest in pursuing other acting roles after his college basketball career is over.)

But he couldn’t do interviews that might help his (potential) acting career. Not during the season at least.