Leonard Fournette’s parents began an online business in 2014 to capitalize on the LSU running back’s potential star power, but they shut it down days before Fournette’s freshman season began to prevent NCAA violations, USA Today reported in a story that published Thursday night.
The story suggests the Fournettes may have committed a violation. The NCAA and Southeastern Conference have no record of communication with the Fournettes or an investigation into the matter, according to the story.
LSU did not report any violations to the SEC or NCAA regarding this matter in the fall of 2014, according to documents obtained by The Advocate last year.
A source told The Advocate on Thursday night that LSU compliance officials consulted with the Fournette family about the website. The family made a decision to close the site just a day after it opened to prevent possible NCAA violations.
NCAA rules prohibit athletes or their family members from profiting off the athlete’s name, image or likeness. At the Fournettes' insistence, Leonard's name, image and likeness was not used on the site, according to the story.
School spokesman Michael Bonnette declined comment Thursday.
The site’s purpose was to sell T-shirts and hats emblazoned with “BUGA Nation,” an acronym for “Being United Generates Attitude.” Fournette and friends developed the acronym during a star-studded prep career at St. Augustine High in New Orleans.
The site went live Aug. 27, 2014 and sales were halted the next day — two days before Fournette made his college debut in LSU’s season opener against Wisconsin, USA Today reported. No more than a few items were purchased and the orders were not filled — a step to ensure no NCAA rules violations took place, the story says.
Paul Price, described by Fournette's mother as the family’s manager, made payments of about $10,000 to build a website and produce the merchandise to be sold, the owners of three companies involved told USA TODAY Sports.
The owners said they gave Price and the Fournettes more than $20,000 in discounts because they expected strong sales driven by the star running back's popularity. Even with the discounts, one of the business owners said he has yet to be paid in full.