Murray, KY – Murray State’s Ja Morant is one of the most exciting college basketball players in the country. He’ll likely soon be a millionaire once he is selected in the NBA Draft, but it seems some people are already trying to make their own money off Morant’s name.
If you go to eBay and search for Ja Morant, you’ll see signed basketballs selling for nearly $160, and signed pictures going for almost $70. That money is not going to Morant. Instead, people are getting him to sign things and then turning around and selling those items. That now has Murray State going on the offensive.
Thursday night’s game against Eastern Illinois was like every other game at the CFSB Center. The game ended and the players came out to sign autographs for fans. The one thing that’s different now is Morant is flanked by not only fans, but also security as they try to shield him from the ever-growing crowds, and from those people trying to make a fast buck.
“We have to do our part to make sure Ja is protected from the vultures who are trying to make money off of his name,” Murray State Basketball Coach Matt McMahon said.
Those so-called vultures have done everything from come to practice unannounced to hanging out at hotels on road trips, just trying to get Morant to sign stuff they can sell.
“It’s not right that someone would come in here and pretend to be a fan and try to get him to sign a bag of basketballs so they can make money,” McMahon said. “That’s not right. That’s not how things should work.”
There have been superstars at Murray State in recent years, Isaiah Canaan and Cameron Payne to name two. Both guys ended up in the NBA, but neither had campus security around them on game day not only at home, but also on the road. Ja Morant does. That’s because the circus surrounding him is unlike anything we’ve seen at Murray State.
“All of us, his teammates, coaches, security, we have to make sure he’s not taken advantage of in the situation,” McMahon said.
Everybody at Murray State is trying to give Morant the space to be a college kid. They just want to keep him from being overwhelmed by the circus. Morant has a campus policeman near him at home games, and the officer travels with the team on the road. When we tried to get more information about security traveling with Morant from Interim Athletic Director Velvet Milkman, from campus police, and from the University, we instead got a statement from Murray State Director of Communication Shawn Touney. That statement read: “Murray State University values the safety of all of our students. As a safety precaution, the University feels that it would be inappropriate to discuss specific security measures.”
To help combat the autograph sellers, Morant is now making a point to personalize each autograph, which obviously makes the item tougher to sell.