Big Blue Madness campers understanding of UK player autograph limits

jtipton@herald-leader.comOctober 3, 2013 

Bryan Rogers, left, and Scotty Gollihue, both from Grayson, set up their tent Wednesday morning to camp out for the distribution of Big Blue Madness tickets.

PHOTO BY CHARLES BERTRAM | STAFF — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

University of Kentucky Athletics is trying to limit autograph seeking at the Big Blue Madness campout this week.

Earlier in the year, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel jeopardized his eligibility by signing items that were later sold.

The timing is purely coincidental, said Sandy Bell, who heads UK Athletics' effort to comply with NCAA rules.

UK Athletics has been advising Madness campers about the danger of autographs for six or seven years, Bell said. She said a listing of do's and don'ts distributed to fans has not been revised since 2009.

"Some fans are under the mistaken impression that if the student-athlete is not paid for the autograph, it is permissible to sell it," the one-page list of 11 guidelines says. "This is NOT TRUE! The sale of the autographed item is prohibited as long as any student-athlete whose name appears on the item is still in school."

UK, which placed monitors throughout the makeshift campground outside Memorial Coliseum, does not prohibit its players from signing autographs. But each fan is limited to one item to be signed. Fans are also asked not to ask for autographs or request pictures when players are en route to class, practice or tutoring sessions. UK also asks fans not to sell or trade an autograph or picture.

An outright ban on autographs "would be unfair to the true UK fan who treasures the item because of its connection to the program rather than its monetary value," the sheet of guidelines says.

Fans seemed happy to comply.

At mid-afternoon Thursday, fans lined up for autographs outside a portable metal fencing set up between the Wildcat Coal Lodge and the Joe Craft Center. They hoped to intercept players as they walked to practice.

"They're not allowed to use (autograph signing) as an excuse for being late to class or workouts," fan Michael Roe of Paris said.

Fan Anthony Bourland of Louisville said of UK's guidelines, "They've been doing it right."

The guidelines apparently are not an impassable obstacle.

Gary Brown, a truck driver from Hustonville, had set up his family's tent on the lodge side of the Coliseum. His daughter, Linzey, 8, said she needed only Jarrod Polson and Jon Hood to complete the effort to get every UK player's autograph.

Campers set record

Kentucky's Big Blue Madness campout has apparently reached its limit.

UK officials estimated 755 tents were set up as of 1 p.m. Thursday, breaking the record of 595 set last year.

UK said any campers who arrived after that point are not likely to receive the control cards that provide campers access to the free tickets for Big Blue Madness.

"We will still maintain a limited number of tickets online for those who do not receive control cards on Friday or were not able to camp out," Deputy Athletics Director DeWayne Peevy said.

UK will begin distributing the control cards at 2 p.m. Friday, and the tickets will be handed out beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday.

Big Blue Madness will be held in Rupp Arena on Oct. 18.

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com.

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