Leonard Fournette isn’t allowed to benefit from his name or likeness, under NCAA rules.
But victims of the South Carolina flooding certainly did.
The LSU running back’s jersey and helmets signed by Tigers coach Les Miles and former South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier sold for $101,000 during an online auction that ended Monday morning.
The money will go to flooding victims in South Carolina, which caused 19 deaths and displaced many more. The high bidder’s user name on the auction was “COACH.” The university, as of Monday evening, had not released the winner’s name.
“I’m excited,” Fournette said Monday. “It’s going out to help the victims. I’m proud of the work I did. Not just me, but LSU period. Thanking God for giving me a chance to help other people out.”
The auction began at 7 a.m. Saturday and quickly broke what is believed to be a record amount paid for a college-worn jersey. The previous record was $31,070 for a Georgia jersey of Frank Sinkwich, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1942.
Bids slowed drastically after the first 12 hours. In fact, no one bid on the jersey and helmets in a 17-hour span. Starting at kickoff of LSU-Alabama on Saturday night and until about noon Sunday, the top bid remained at $35,050.
Fournette, a heavy favorite for the Heisman Trophy entering the game, struggled to a season-low 31 yards in a 30-16 loss to the Crimson Tide.
Bidding increased significantly within the final few minutes of the auction. The high bid was at about $45,000 seven minutes before the auction was scheduled to end at 11 a.m. Monday. The auction continued as long as a bid was placed every three minutes.
It was a back-and-forth bidding battle. In a 17-minute span, the highest bid rose more than $50,000, hitting $101,000 at 11:10 a.m. The auction ended at 11:13.
Miles joked that his signed helmet garnered $1,000.
“(Fournette) got the $100,000,” he quipped.
LSU’s announcement of the auction last Tuesday put an end to nearly a month of uncertainty surrounding the issue. Fournette expressed his intent to auction the jersey for flood victims after LSU’s win over South Carolina on Oct. 10. He did so by reading a prepared statement during a live ESPN interview immediately following the game.
The NCAA relaxed its restrictions on such things, making an exception for Fournette to auction the jersey.
The jersey is “as-is,” complete with the nameplate on the back, the school said. Fournette signed the jersey.
Miles signed an LSU helmet worn in the game against the Gamecocks, which was relocated from Columbia to Baton Rouge. Spurrier signed an SC helmet worn in the game, which happened to be his last as coach.
“That’s a tremendous piece,” Miles said of the auction. “It’s good for college football, it’s good for the flood relief and it’s a great piece.”