In a paradigm-shifting decision, the NCAA has announced that it will allow Little League World Series participant Mo’ne Davis to maintain her future amateurism while being paid to appear in a add for the car company Chevy.
In a statement released by NCAA spokeswoman Emily James, the NCAA ruled the “historically limited” opportunities for women to participate in professional baseball.
Mo’ne Davis may be paid for appearing in the Chevy commercial without impacting her NCAA eligibility…The NCAA staff’s decision was made within this process and based on a combination of considerations,” James said in the statement. “This waiver narrowly extends the rules — which allow Davis to accept the payment and still be eligible in any other sport — to include baseball. The NCAA staff also considered the historically limited opportunities for women to participate in professional baseball. In addition, Davis is much younger than when the vast majority of the prospect rules apply. While this situation is unusual, the flexible approach utilized in this decision is not.
Davis rose to stardom this summer as one of the powerhouse players in the 2014 Little League World Series, when she became the first girl in Little League World Series history to earn a win as a pitcher. After that game, the governor of Pennsylvania predicted that she would one day play professional baseball.
Davis has said that while she enjoys baseball, basketball is “her sport,” and that her lifelong dream is to play college basketball for the UConn Huskies.
The NCAA, while claiming its own flexibility on this matter, was not in at least one other instance flexible with Davis. After UConn women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma called Davis to congratulate her on her success, the NCAA awarded him a secondary rules violation.
This decision seems inconsistent with other NCAA decisions, including former Olympic skier Jeremy Bloom, who was once declared ineligible to play NCAA football because of receiving money for skiing. The NCAA has since publicly changed those rules to only make athletes ineligible to compete in the same sport as one they’ve received money for, so the fact that she is still eligible to play college basketball is not unusual.
In this case, however, the NCAA has specifically declared that Davis is eligible for all sports, including baseball.
This could become paradigm-shifting for the NCAA, including in aquatic sports. There are historically, for example, historically limited opportunities for female water polo players to compete professionally.
There are a few examples of women who have played professional baseball independent leagues, including in recent years Ila Borders, Tiffany Brooks, and Julie Croteau and Carey Schueler, who was the first woman ever drafted by a major league baseball team. There is a United States National Team in baseball.