Dear NCAA: Please Stop Helping AOL & Turner Scam StudentsPosted on by Jon Kelly (Jon)
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It seems that greed at the NCAA knows absolutely no boundaries. In April 2010, the NCAA signed an $11 billion agreement to televise the NCAA men's basketball tournament on CBS and Turner Sports. You would think that would be enough cash to support an organization whose stars are all unpaid amateurs. You'd also think that would be enough cash to not put scammy ads on the home page of NCAA.com right before the tournament begins. If so, you'd be completely wrong.
What I found on NCAA.com's homepage was the set of ads shown below, served up by AOL's Advertising.com. I immediately recognized these scammy ads because I'm the former president of an advertising company that specifically banned that kind of ad from our network. I guess the NCAA, Turner, and AOL have no such qualms.
And it doesn't stop there. On Channel11NewsReport.com, we get to find out what they meant by "$65/Hr Job - 25 Openings." Turns out, it's not a "job opening" at all. It's some work-at-home scheme called eHomeProfitSystem.
How do the other two ads compare? Well, even though the auto insurance ad said "Obey this one trick to get extremely cheap rates," I couldn't find the word "trick" anywhere on the page (gotta love the irony of their word choice). Instead, there's another faux local newscaster along with screenshots and comments that are disclaimed as "NOT REAL" in gray-on-gray in the fine print.
Finally, we have the iPad ad. Although the ad makes the definitive statement "TODAY ONLY: auction site to give away 1,000 ipads for $24.87," the only references to iPads on the page are in the "comments," which are described in the fine print as "illustrative" (which I believe in this case means "made up"). Turns out, the site is an ad for something called Plundr, a "penny auction" site that, as far as I can tell, does not have 1,000 iPads on sale for exactly $24.87.
What's particularly disgusting about this is how well-targeted these ads are to students. Students need jobs, they often have extremely high car insurance rates, and, of course, they love their Apple products. AOL, with an assist from Turner and the NCAA, serves up these ads' prey on a golden platter.