The University is demanding that promoters stop using copyrighted images of its men’s basketball players and trademarked logos to advertise parties.
Pictures of senior T.J. Thompson and junior Pops Mensah-Bonsu were used on palm cards promoting a Thursday night party at Daedalus nightclub, for which the players were listed as hosts. The party’s promoters said they had the players’ permission to use the pictures for the palm card, which if true could put Mensah-Bonsu’s remaining year of collegiate eligibility in jeopardy.
NCAA rules state that student-athletes lose their eligibility if they permit the use of their names or pictures “to advertise, recommend or promote directly the sale or use of a commercial product or service of any kind.” The rules also state that if the student-athlete is not aware of the use of their likeness, “they or the University is required to take steps to stop such an activity.”
Reached by phone Sunday, Mensah-Bonsu said he was not aware that his photograph was being used to promote the party, at which he and Thompson were seen.
“I wasn’t really involved (in promoting the party),” he said. “I didn’t know about (the photograph being used on the palm cards) but I didn’t think it’s a big deal.”
He also denied an ESPN.com report that he had signed with an agent, a move that would bar him from returning to GW next year should he go unselected in the June NBA Draft. Mensah-Bonsu told The Hatchet last month that he was entering the draft.
On Friday, ESPN.com reported that the forward would hire agent John Greig to represent him. The report also said Mensah-Bonsu has received lucrative offers from teams in Europe. The agent did not return an e-mail seeking comment on Friday night.
“It’s definitely not true,” Mensah-Bonsu said of the ESPN report. “I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize my team or eligibility at all.”
Mensah-Bonsu is eligible to play at GW for one more year should he decide to return, while Thompson will graduate in May and will not return.
GW Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz said his department would never authorize the use of the Colonials’ logo or team photos to promote any off-campus activity such as a party at a nightclub. Kvancz, who first learned of the palm cards when approached for comment for this story, said he will refer the matter to University Deputy General Counsel William Howard, who could not be reached for comment late Friday afternoon.
In instances where an establishment does not have permission to use logos and images, the University typically sends a cease and desist order, Kvancz said.
Two companies, Dream Teem Entertainment and Eyekon Entertainment, promoted the Thursday night party. An Eyekon promoter, who was reached via a phone number listed on the cards and identified himself only as “Tommy,” said he had the players’ permission to use the images on the palm cards, which were distributed around campus last week.
Kvancz responded to that claim by saying, “If (Mensah-Bonsu) did (authorize it), I would tell you this: they’d better have it in writing.”
A representative from idealsoul.com, which designed the palm card for the promoters, said he was told that the party was being hosted by the players and to find pictures of them on the Internet.
“I took it from the sports section of the GW Web site,” said the designer, who was also reached using a phone number from the palm cards and declined to give his name. “I was told to get it there by the promoters.”
The party was advertised as “the championship party” and as being hosted by Atlantic 10 stars “Big Pops” and Thompson. Daedalus, located at 1010 Vermont Ave. NW, also stated on its Web site that additional special invited guests would include men’s basketball players from Georgetown, Maryland, George Mason and American universities.
The palm cards also listed “Atilla Crosby,” presumably former GW basketball player and current Bowie State player Attilla Cosby, as a host of the party. Cosby left the University in 2001 while on trial for sexual assault charges, for which he was later convicted and served three years in prison.
-Will Dempster contributed to this report.