After bids reach $10,000, Texas ring lifted from eBay auction
By SUZANNE HALLIBURTON
Cox News Service
Thursday, May 25, 2006
AUSTIN, Texas The mystery involving the potential sale of a coveted University of Texas national championship ring remained unsolved late Wednesday.

In fact, the ring's seller on eBay twice took the Rose Bowl ring off the auction market, first claiming it was improperly listed before finally saying the item was no longer available. By that time, bids had reached more than $10,000 on the ring, which had a wholesale price tag of $350.

Still, the Texas athletic department wanted to know the identity of the player who gave up his ring, which the team earned Jan. 4 by beating Southern California 41-38 in the Rose Bowl.

In fact, athletic department officials even talked about buying the ring to take it off the market.

"We thought about it, but we have other ways to find out who this is," said Texas associate athletic director Nick Voinis. "There are ways to find out."

At issue is whether the player is still on the roster because as of July 2003, the selling of an athletic award by a student athlete is forbidden by the NCAA, something which could result in suspensions.

The rule could be named for the Georgia football team, because it was passed after nine Bulldogs sold their Southeastern Conference rings after the 2002 season. The nine players were declared ineligible, then reinstated because the NCAA had no rule on the sale of championship items.

At about the same time, Florida State investigated allegations of players selling rings and other team souvenirs to a business that specialized in sports memorabilia.

The NCAA then passed a rule that a player would be penalized if he or she sold an item. The number of games depended on the wholesale cost of the award. If the item cost between $300 and $500, a player would be suspended for one game and required to repay the cost of the award.

There are no rules precluding former players from selling their rings. They can list them on auction sites like eBay or sell them to jewelry brokers. Rarely is the identity of a player revealed in these auctions. Only the buyer and seller know.

On Wednesday, a seller identified as "TravisTrader" was selling a 1999 Texas Cotton Bowl ring. He was asking for an initial bid of $4,495 for a ring belonging to an unidentified player. In an e-mail to the Austin American-Statesman, he said he had tried to sell the ring in previous auctions, but never received the right price.

A Holiday Bowl ring from 2003 also had been for sale on eBay earlier this month. Again, the broker did not receive the minimum bid of $3,999.99. The broker, identified as championship_sports_rings, has sold rings representing championships or bowl rings originally owned by players from Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Miami, Florida State, Auburn, Michigan, Ohio State, Clemson, USC and Georgia Tech.

There was an active auction Wednesday for a 1997 Nebraska national football championship ring carrying a minimum price of $2,999.99. Also, there was bidding for a 1994 Arkansas basketball national championship ring that came with other souvenirs. The bidding was up to $11,500.

The UT compliance office monitors Internet auction sites every day. However, Voinis said this is the first case the office is aware of in which a Longhorn has sold a national championship ring.

Suzanne Halliburton writes for the Austin American-Statesman.