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Judge Won’t Let Skier Play Football

August 15, 2002

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BOULDER, Colo. (AP) _ A judge has refused to allow Olympic freestyle skier Jeremy Bloom to play football at Colorado while he sues the NCAA to keep his skiing endorsements.

Boulder County District Judge Daniel Hale denied Bloom’s request for a court injunction on Thursday.

Bloom, 20, said he didn’t know what his next move would be, and he wasn’t even sure whether he would attend the Buffaloes’ practice later Thursday. He said he would consult with his attorney and consider his legal options.

``I know today was a big day for my future,″ he said. ``Now I’ll move forward, and I’ll figure out a way to try to keep some of my dreams alive.″

When asked what he would do if ultimately faced with a choice between skiing and football, Bloom said, ``I wouldn’t say I lean toward anything.″

Hale said he did not think Bloom’s challenge would succeed on legal merits, and he was concerned that the NCAA could sanction Colorado if an injunction later was overturned. He said issuing an injunction might also undermine confidence in the NCAA.

However, Hale also said he was disappointed that the NCAA would not allow Bloom to pursue both sports by issuing him a waiver.

``Here the NCAA had an opportunity to recognize and support a World Cup champion and an Olympic competitor by supporting his future success _ by leaving doors open rather than closing them,″ said Hale, who characterized Bloom as a talented and unique athlete.

A spokesman for the NCAA did not return a phone message seeking comment.

Bloom, a wide receiver, could have played with Colorado last year but put off college to compete in the Salt Lake City Olympics, where he placed ninth.

In lieu of a salary, skiers are compensated by endorsement contracts. Bloom petitioned the NCAA to allow him to keep on receiving money, equipment and apparel from companies to support his skiing career while he played college football. He also wants to pursue modeling and acting jobs.

NCAA rules allow a player to compete professionally in one sport while participating as an amateur in a collegiate sport, but players are prohibited from endorsing any products based on their athletic abilities.

In a written statement, Colorado legal counsel Joanne McDevitt said the university had done everything it could to support Bloom.

``We filed every waiver we possibly could on the behalf of this unique and outstanding young man,″ McDevitt said. ``At this point, we will abide by the court’s order, and everything is now up to Jeremy.″

Bloom’s attorney, Peter Rush, said he and his client would decide in the next couple of weeks whether to pursue other legal options, which may include filing a new injunction request based on different legal grounds.

Regardless of what happens, Bloom said he has learned from the experience.

``I’m definitely going to be a stronger person and competitor,″ he said. ``It’ll make me feel good at the end of the day that I stood up for what I believed in.″

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