NCAA Suspends Top Star Kofi Cockburn For Now-Legal Infraction


The National Collegiate Athletic Association suspended University of Illinois men’s basketball player Kofi Cockburn, one of the biggest stars in college athletics, Monday for selling memorabilia in June — though  name, image and likeness (NIL) legislation went into effect July 1 that now makes such a transaction legal.

University of Illinois star Kofi Cockburn will sit his team’s first three games. (AP Photo/Michael … [+] Conroy)


Key Facts

Cockburn, a consensus All-American last season, will sit out his team’s first three games, beginning with the November 9 season opener against Jackson State.

Given the timing of Cockburn’s offense, this may be the last-ever suspension of a student-athlete for selling their own gear, ending a long NCAA tradition of sidelining its top players for such transactions.

Key Background

After many years of pushback, the NCAA finally dropped its ban on students profiting from jersey sales, endorsement deals, marketing contracts and the like beginning July 1 after the Supreme Court ruled in June that student-athletes were entitled to additional benefits. Meanwhile, Cockburn was actually not planning on returning to college athletics when he committed the violation in June, as he was still in the NBA draft process, only deciding to return to college July 6, five days after the ruling.

Big Number

$17-21 billion. That’s how much total compensation Black football and basketball athletes competing in “Power Five” athletic conferences lost out on from 2005 to 2019, according to a recent study, because of no wages or NIL deals.


Despite the new NIL rules, the NCAA has remained firm on maintaining prior penalties. In July, the NCAA denied former University of Southern California football star Reggie Bush’s request to have his Heisman Trophy reinstated, though the then-disallowed benefits he received in 2005 would be permissible today.

Further Reading

NCAA suspends Illinois star center Kofi Cockburn 3 games for selling apparel, memorabilia (ESPN)

College Athletes Are Ready To Reap The Rewards Of A Billion-Dollar NIL Market. Opendorse Is Here To Help. (Forbes)

Source: NCAA Suspends Top Star Kofi Cockburn For Now-Legal Infraction

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