This morning, Zoo With Roy, who for some reason was shopping the official NCAA site, which is run by Fanatics Inc. (an offshoot of King of Prussia based GSI Commerce, which was sold to eBay last year), discovered that Penn State gear was not available for sale. Here, look:
582 NCAA teams are said to be available in the store. But, for a short time this morning, no Penn State (they’re back now).
So, was that intentional?
Centre County Report, Penn State’s student run TV station, wrote the following, on Facebook:
The NCAA's merchandising website has stopped sales of Penn State apparel and merchandise. Comments posted on Twitter today made note of the change, and a call from the Centre County Report to the website's customer service center confirmed the change.
A representative told us they received an email from the NCAA today that said the organization decided to take Penn State items off the site, but gave no reason. A search for "Penn State" on the site results in this message: “Oops. We couldn't find the page you requested and apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”
A spokesperson for Fanatics told Philly.com something much different, that it was a “technical glitch" (the same message later appeared on the website). But that’s a suspect explanation, at best. Having worked for the company when it was GSI and knowing a bit about how the back end works, it would be pretty difficult for an entire category to disappear due to a technical glitch. Fanatics runs other stores besides the NCAA Shop – like Football Fanatics and the NFL Shop (and MLB, NBA and NHL) – and Penn State gear was still available on those sites. Generally speaking, products are listed under sport and team categories on the back end and pushed out to all relevant sites. I can’t say for sure that’s the case here, but it certainly worked that way three years ago, when I handled this kind of stuff at GSI. It’s the reason why the following two product listings are identical. One is from the NCAA Shop, the other from Football Fanatics:
So, for a technical glitch to remove Penn State and only Penn State, it likely would have removed them from all stores, which wasn’t the case. It is possible, however, that someone unchecked a box, effectively removing an entire category from a single store… but that would have been awfully coincidental.
Whatever the case, the products are back up, the world is saved, and you can now purchase your Blue and White gear.
UPDATE: A customer service rep told Onward State the following: “an intentional decision made by the NCAA. The NCAA pulled merchandise off its site and we will no longer carry Penn State merchandise.”