(RNS) The National Collegiate Athletic Association has banned the use of eye black with messages--a practice prominently used by former University of Florida star quarterback Tim Tebow to display Bible verses.
The NCAA's Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved a policy Wednesday (April 14) that players cannot place symbols or messages on the black strips under their eyes, which are used to reduce glare from the sun.
The association denied that the rule was influenced by Tebow's biblical messages.
"When this rule was proposed the committee did not focus on any one team or student athlete," said Cameron Schuh, a spokesman for the NCAA. "That measure reinforces what the intended use of eye black is, which is to shade the eyes from the sun."
He said the panel's decision confirmed an existing rule "that players are not allowed to have any symbols or messages on their eye black, starting with this coming season."
Players other than the Heisman-trophy-winning Tebow have used the anti-glare paint for other messages. Reggie Bush, another Heisman winner, put 619, the area code of his native San Diego, on his eye black.