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Jan 12, 2015 01:49 AM EST

Crowdfunding Website Aims to Make Payments to Former College Athletes

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A crowdfunding website has begun collecting live contributions to pay former college athletes.

Despite attempts from colleges and conferences to shut it down, FanPay, a for-profit crowdfunding company started by three Notre Dame graduates, has launched live contributions for athletes to collect money once they graduate and have no playing eligibility left, CBS Sports reported. It has received more than $1,200 in anonymous donations so far for 15 football, basketball and volleyball players.

Crowdfunding is a funding method where common people finance a project or venture by making contributions, typically through the internet.

Last fall, FanPay received more than 100 cease-and-desist letters from universities and conferences, "and the NCAA published an educational column about athletes' eligibility in relation to crowdfunding," CBS Sports reported.  The NCAA has said once an athlete accepts the promise of pay from the crowdfunding site, his or her eligibility is jeopardized, even if funds are not dispersed until after college.

Before moving forward with their plans, the founders of FanPay consulted with an attorney. FanPay officials said players can accept or refuse the funds and that the money isn't offered while they have eligibility remaining.

"You can't accept something not offered to them yet," Tony Klausing, one of FanPay's founders, told CBS Sports. "We think we're in compliance with NCAA bylaws, but let's be clear: We aren't the NCAA. They can kind of do what the heck they want to do. We wanted to design this platform as a practical means for student-athletes to be paid quickly. We're very confident we're in compliance with all applicable laws. How the NCAA reacts, that's up to them."

A lot of the cease-and-desist letters FanPay received from schools and conferences cited an NCAA rule that says if an "athlete's name or picture appears on commercial items or is used to promote a product without the athlete's knowledge or permission, the school or athlete is required to take steps to stop the activity," according to CBS Sports.

"The reality is we're not making very much money," Klausing said. "We just want to design a helpful platform and a lot of startups require a mass audience so we don't want to discourage people from contributing."

FanPay's crowdfunding site currently allows people to donate money to virtually any college athlete at all NCAA level in football, men's basketball, women's basketball and volleyball. More sports are expected to be rolled out in the coming weeks.

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