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Are there any depths NCAA & its TV partners won’t plumb? It took questions from USA Today to affect change and expose hypocrisy

THE NCAA BANNED SUBSTANCE list includes ingredients found in many caffeinated energy drinks. But that doesn’t mean ESPN, the Big Ten Network and Pac-12 Networks won’t try to make a cash grab for those energy drink companies' advertising dollars. It took an inquiry by a newspaper, USA Today, before the NCAA and its TV partners were forced to make changes.

Xyience (say, it sounds like "Science" so it must be within NCAA rules) was also scheduled to be the headline sponsor of an exclusive interview show with the chairman of the College Football Playoff committee. Last year, ESPN reporter Samantha Ponder was hired as a spokeswoman for Xyience and has appeared in numerous Xyience commercials.

But within two days after questions were posed this month from USA TODAY Sports about how the drink squared with NCAA rules, the interview show sponsorship was suddenly dropped.  The online news release promoting the marketing campaign was erased. And the Pac-12 Networks said it no longer would run commercials for the product, which could cause a failed NCAA drug test if consumed in large enough quantities.

Who the hell is guiding the ship here?  Isn’t this something the NCAA and its TV broadcast networks might have, just maybe, looked into before accepting Xyience’s money and blasting ads out coast to coast?  It took until a newspaper raised questions before everyone decided to do the right thing given the NCAA's own rulebook?

“Xyience aired ads more than 230 times this year through Sept. 12 on channels such as the Pac-12 Networks, Big Ten Network, ESPN and ABC," reads the USA Today article. "Nearly two-thirds of those ads airing on the Pac-12 Networks, according to, which measures national TV advertising. Xyience spent an estimated $912,000 to air that many times, according to

“Its line of fruit-flavored drinks contains ingredients that are considered impermissible or banned by the NCAA, even though they’re not illegal or unusual among dietary supplements. And though no NCAA rules were violated with the marketing campaign, the governing body's advertising guidelines also say that “most energy or stimulant drinks” are not permitted to be associated with NCAA events such as the Final Four but not including regular season football or most bowl games.

"Mary Wilfert, associate director of the NCAA’s Sport Science Institute, gave an online presentation last week to athletic trainers and athletic department staff. One of the topics was energy drinks. “The energy drink buzz is a false energy,” read one of the slides presented by Wilfert. “So-called energy drinks are essentially caffeine and stimulant delivery systems.”

Oh, okay, then it's all good.  There's no hypocrisy with any of that.

To read the full USA Today article by Brent Schrotenboer, CLICK HERE

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