"We've been thinking about doing this for a while," Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne, who wouldn't elaborate any further, told ESPN.
Arizona will instead offer No. 14 football jerseys for the year 2014. Northwestern will sell only No. 51 jerseys, which is the number head coach Pat Fitzgerald wore when he played for the Wildcats. And the Aggies will only sell No. 12 jerseys to represent their "12th man."
Like most other schools, Arizona in the past has offered football and basketball jerseys with numbers of current popular players. Players' names weren't allowed on their jerseys.
That Arizona is leading the charge in such a monumental change isn't surprising. Former linebacker Jake Fischerand kicker Jake Smith teamed with football players at Northwestern as some of the first NCAA players to jump on board the overarching Ed O'Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA that begins Monday -- check out SB Nation's primer of the ongoing case here.
Video game maker EA Sports recently reached a $40 million settlement with former players who said the company make profits off their likenesses, and that outcome likely persuaded UA to take a step back regarding the jersey sales.
Texas A&M's decision comes after the school likely did quite well profiting off the character that's become Johnny Football.
Speaking of which, college basketball analyst Jay Bilas probably has an opinion on the ordeal. He was one of the first to go hard at the NCAA by pointing out that a search for a player name in the organization's store leads to their numbered jerseys.
Unsurprisingly, Bilas says this recent move by Arizona, Northwestern and Texas A&M isn't enough.
3 schools to sell generic jerseys: http://t.co/hXEIISrbvP Jerseys are the easy things. Truth is, players have value in every t-shirt sold.— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) June 5, 2014