BOULDER, CO, Jan. 19, 2004 (AP by John Mossman) -- Two-sport star Jeremy Bloom intends to play football next fall - and accept skiing endorsements in defiance of the NCAA.
Bloom said his decision Monday is intended to force the NCAA's hand, requiring the organization to either change its position or prevent him from playing football.
The NCAA has ruled that Bloom cannot accept skiing endorsements and also play football. Bloom maintains such money is necessary to fund his freestyle ski career.
For the last two seasons, Bloom has been a wide receiver and kick returner at the University of Colorado while also competing in moguls skiing on the World Cup circuit _ at his own expense.
"From the time I was 9 years old I've dreamed of winning a gold medal for our country in the Winter Olympics," Bloom said. "Unfortunately, at this time, I can no longer realistically attempt to follow this dream with the restrictions that exist under current NCAA bylaws."
Bloom has appealed the NCAA ruling, but a state district judge ruled against him in August 2002.
"The NCAA remains open to finding a way to resolve this issue," NCAA spokesman Jeff Howard said Monday. "But as the association continues to look at specifics of this case, we have not been able to come to a solution that works for both parties."
During a news conference on the Colorado campus, Bloom said his agent will begin accepting corporate endorsements on Tuesday. But he also intends to return to the football field for his junior season next fall.
Bloom insisted his desire to play football is equal to his desire to win an Olympic gold medal.
"The unfortunate side of this is that the NCAA possesses the power to kick me off the football field and take my scholarship away, even though their own rule book states that an amateur student-athlete can simultaneously be a professional in another sport (such as baseball)," Bloom said.
"The NCAA has not allowed me to be a professional skier for two years now. I only want what is fair, for the NCAA to control my amateur career and the International Olympic Committee to control my ski career," he said.
Bloom insisted he "will not willingly leave the University of Colorado. They'll have to kick me out. I look forward to being a Buff in the 2004 season."
Bloom, who aims to compete in the 2006 Olympics, won two medals at the 2003 world championships: gold in dual moguls and silver in individual moguls.
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