Players Are Harmed Regardless.

To start off the final round of filings, the plaintiffs in the O’Bannon trial submitted a brief addressing the court’s questions peppered at the end of the trial and rebutting the arguments articulated by the NCAA. At the end of the trial, Judge Claudia Wilken rigorously asked fundamental questions to determine whether the plaintiffs sufficiently established that the NCAA has violated antitrust law.  The plaintiffs reiterated in their brief that pinpointing the buyer and the seller in this case is pointless.  Regardless of who the…
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O’Bannon Trial: The Ball is Now in the Hands of Judge Wilken

After 24 witnesses over 15 days of trial, it has finally come to an end, with a final round of filings scheduled to end on July 10.  Presiding Judge Claudia Wilken is expected to render her decision by early August.  No matter who wins, there will be appeals. During the last day of the trial, the NCAA articulated the plaintiffs must show all the elements in an antitrust case: buyer, seller, market, product, agreement, restraint, antitrust injury and victim.  The NCAA further argued its rules…
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Product Endorsement Takes a Front Seat in NCAA Trial

Day 12 of the O’Bannon v. NCAA trial began with the NCAA calling SEC Executive Associate Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer, Greg Sankey, to the stand.  Sankey spent much of his time justifying amateurism for the court, and Judge Wilken appeared especially interested in product endorsement. Up until this point, the case has mostly revolved around the use of player names and likeness in video games and television broadcasting.  When Sankey’s testimony began to address product endorsement by schools and sports programs,  Judge Wilken began…
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C-USA Commissioner: Don’t Open a Pandora’s Box

When he took the stand in the O’Bannon trial, Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky warned if the plaintiffs win, the world of college sports would become a “horrible place.”  If student-athletes are allowed to sell the rights to their names, images, and likeness, a “corrupting influence of money” would overpower and materialize college sports. Banowsky further expressed his worries when he described “exploitative” boosters who would flock to manipulate these 18 or 19-year olds and their families.  In doing so, he mentioned Nevin Shapiro, a…
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The Big Ten Commissioner: If Players Get Paid, No More Rose Bowl is Likely.

Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany took the stand in the O’Bannon trial.  Appeared as a witness for the NCAA, Delany reiterated the NCAA’s argument that paying student-athletes goes against the league’s principle.  However, he seemed to have gone too far when he said, “when the basketball season is over, we probably ought to just put a lock on the gym. If [the players] want to play they should just go to a playground and go play, but they don’t need to be with our…
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Day 7 of O’Bannon Trial: Lengthy Testimonies from Both Sides Continued

The O’Bannon trial continued with more witnesses from both sides appeared in Judge Claudia Wilken’s courtroom on Wednesday.  The University of South Carolina president Harris Pastides and the women’s athletic director at the University of Texas Christine Plonsky were among the NCAA’s witnesses while Electronic Art’s chief legal officer Joel Linzner appeared as one of the plaintiffs’ witnesses. Pastides, a member of the NCAA Division I Board of Directors and of a committee in charge of the league’s governance reform, testified that the school’s revenue…
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Playing Basketball for a Division I School is a Hobby?

According to the NCAA manual, it is.  “The Principle of Amateurism” of the manual states that “[s]tudent participation in intercollegiate athletics is an avocation, and student-athletes should be protected from exploitation by professional and commercial enterprises.”  Further, “[s]tudent-athletes shall be amateurs in an intercollegiate sport, and their participation should be motivated primarily by education and by the physical, mental and social benefits to be derived.” The logic for the NCAA is that because student-athletes are amateurs in an intercollegiate sport, whose participation is an avocation,…
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Day 5 of the O’Bannon Trial: MONEY

Day 5 of the O’Bannon trial was about money.  How big of an empire is the NCAA in terms of its revenues?  An economist and the plaintiffs’ expert witness Dan Rascher said that from the 69 conference teams in the league there was a $1.3 billion surplus and about $6.4 billion of total broadcast revenues in Division 1 from 2005 to 2011.  Moreover,  no other sporting event produces more advertising revenues than the league’s basketball tournament in the U.S. Rascher continued that during the 2012-2013…
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Who’s Got the Rights?

On day four of the O’Bannon case, the dual between the athletes and the NCAA over the players’ rights in their names, images, and likeness or NIL took place.  The players argued that they own their NIL rights and the NCAA misappropriated those rights while the NCAA argued the players do not have such rights, at least in the context of live broadcasting of the games. The plaintiffs presented several TV broadcasting contracts, including one between the Big12 and Fox.  The relevant provision says, “The…
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