On Monday, LaVar Ball announced that he would be homeschooling his youngest son LaMelo for his final two seasons of his high school career. In the immediate aftermath of the announcement, most speculation and attention focused on LaVar’s relationship with Chino Hills’ new coach, the school’s third in three seasons.
While the justification for LaMelo Ball’s homeschooling could be that simple and straightforward, there’s another potential reason worthy of significant consideration: perhaps his new Big Baller Brand signature shoe, the MB1, would deem him ineligible for CIF competition at Chino Hills or another school.
Or more directly, perhaps some activity related to wearing or sponsoring the shoe would put his eligibility in question.
When Big Baller Brand first announced the MB1s, LaVar Ball insisted that the new $395 retail shoes would not impact LaMelo’s high school eligibility. Despite the family’s claim that LaMelo would be fine, they never explained how he would still qualify as an amateur despite his family making money off his express name and likeness.
In fact, the family solution is that they don’t need a solution … because apparently they don’t. Here’s the CIF regulation that governs amateurism in connection with an endorsement deal, CIF Bylaw 212 C:
A student shall become ineligible for CIF competition in the respective sport for the following violations related to CIF competition:
(4) Lending his/her name and team affiliation for purposes of commercial endorsement. . . This provision is not intended to restrict the right of any student to participate in a commercial endorsement provided there is no school team or school affiliation.
There’s a catch to this clause, of course. Despite CIF assistant commissioner Thom Simmons reportedly telling the family that LaMelo’s eligibility was safe so long as he didn’t display Chino Hills or CIF logos as part of the shoe’s marketing, that doesn’t mean that LaMelo was safe wearing his shoes on the court. Quite the contrary.
And that would lead one to believe that there’s plenty of reason for LaMelo to go out on his own. Without having to worry about CIF regulations, he can compete in any event he wants, wearing Big Baller Brand and marketing the family brand’s shoes and apparel however he wants.
Of course, that in itself brings an amateurism wrinkle when it comes to the NCAA, though LaMelo Ball was likely already facing an unsteady eligibility there due to his personal shoe. It’s a tricky wrinkle, and probably why we haven’t ever seen a high school star with his own signature sneaker before.
For now, LaMelo’s future bears watching, which is no major change from his prior status. After all, once you’re Big Baller, you’re Big Baller for life.