OR: Hear, hear, let's have a hearing
People stood in front of a judge and talked yesterday, which happens all the time but only rarely is it the Ed O'Bannon case, which has been going on for years and will continue to go on until the sun is a feeble red dot in the sky* and people come to the conclusion that the NCAA is nuncupatory.
O'Bannon and his crew are trying to get a class certified, which would take their case from a few irritated dudes to everyone who has or is playing NCAA sports right now. Results are unknown at the moment, but the gist of it is that the NCAA is in trouble. The judge asked why the O'Bannon folk didn't have any current athletes as plaintiffs if they were trying to certify a class of NCAA athletes; O'Bannon's lawyers said flat-out they would add one. Cue the obvious reference:
The Curt Flood of major college sports is probably on a campus somewhere in America right now. He's probably participating today in some "voluntary" summer weightlifting or conditioning session. His head coach probably makes seven figures, and his school's conference probably signed a megabucks television deal in the past few years.
Curt Flood lost, which no one not actually employed by an athletic department wants to see happen here. The plaintiffs have been saying they have current guys interested for a while but have left them out so far because they didn't want to expose them to retaliation, which… honestly, would be the best possible thing for them. Can you imagine if a kid was added to the lawsuit and the NCAA took away his eligibility? The resulting war would make Helm's Deep look like a Kentucky home game.
SI says legal experts believe the class will be certified, and highlighted a Lionel Hutz argument from the NCAA:
"If you go in front of a camera and know you're going in front of a camera ... you're fair game for TV," Curtner said. "Cheerleaders, mascots, lots of people appear in these broadcasts, and there's a uniform practice in this country that these rights are not individually sold."
Curtner, in turn, drew a skeptical chuckle from the judge when Wilken subsequently asked, "So what is it the colleges are selling when they sell rights to show their games?"
"They are selling exclusive access to their stadium or arena," Curtner responded. "They're telling CBS, you can come in and broadcast this, and no one else can. ... That's all they're selling. They're not selling individual [players'] rights."
Sonny Vacarro said that's the dumbest thing he's ever heard, and while I've been on too many Ohio State message boards to concur it's up there.
The NCAA is going to lose this, right? I can imagine no other way it goes when almost a decade ago various people within the organization itself were asking the same question I have: when literally every move you make is focused on increasing revenue to the detriment of tradition and even common sense, how can you argue that amateurism is, like, a real thing?
"The biggest concern I have is that such a position really does allow for the maximum commercial exploitation of the [student-athlete] and if that occurs, will it be long before we can defend not giving them a piece of the profits?"
But weird stuff happens with lawsuits, I guess. If they do go ahead with the whole-enchilada lawsuit with current players and everything, it is a higher-risk strategy than going with the slow-and-steady approach other reformers have undertaken. But with NCAA correspondence consistently acknowledging the plaintiff's argument, risk seems a relative term.
"off the record, most of those I've spoken to at the NCAA and CLC are in favor of the players being more identifiable not less." –EA sports guy
*[astronomically incorrect, yes, I know.]