Fair Play or foul?

Critics hit hard at UBooster’s novel approach to college fundraising

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Greenville’s Rob Morgan expected some backlash when he launched UBooster.org on Jan. 5. He got some.

Within days, Clemson University’s general counsel Chip Hood sent the Greenville startup a cease-and-desist letter. On Monday, the University of Tennessee announced it would not accept money raised through the Greenville-based website.

Fans were equally critical.

Forums on Clemson’s Tigernet.com and Furman’s uffp2.com are sprinkled with adjectives ranging from “bad” to “horrible.” A Georgia high school football coach called the presence of one his players on UBooster’s homepage “appalling.”

At issue is an unprecedented platform allowing people to pledge money to athletic programs in the name of a high school recruit. Unless donors stipulate otherwise, schools only get the money if the player picks their team.

Morgan, a Greenville anesthesiologist and lifelong University of Georgia fan, was struck with the idea while driving home from a vacation last summer. In his view, UBooster is “novel” and “fun” and completely within NCAA guidelines. Others aren’t so sure – including the NCAA, which declined comment on UBooster when contacted by the Greenville Journal.

“Nobody gave them any authorization to use his likeness or anything of that nature to make money,” said Winston Gordon, the football coach at Hapeville Charter Christian Academy in Lithonia, Ga., when told coveted defensive end Arden Key was pictured on UBooster’s home page – along with $120 that had been “boosted” in his name.

“I think it’s appalling because, No. 1, the kid has no knowledge that he is being used or his likeness,” Gordon said.

Clemson expressed concerns about NCAA compliance in its letter demanding.

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