Interesting developments as the NCAA reacts to the upcoming Ed O’Bannon case and O’Bannon’s representatives react to the NCAA’s moves.
Let’s catch up. Ed O’Bannon and Sam Keller and others are suing the NCAA over their right of publicity. Basically, what these guys are saying is that the NCAA should not have control over their likenesses while they are in college and certainly shouldn’t have control over their likenesses after they graduate, which currently the NCAA does.
A number of preliminary hearings have looked bad for the NCAA as this case gets closer to trial and the NCAA has reacted – as usual, badly.
During its winter meeting in January, the NCAA started working on language that would give the five major football conferences (The Atlantic Coast Conference, The Big Ten, the Big 12, the Southeastern Conference and the Pac 12) more power in voting whether to pay athletes a “full” scholarship.
Basically, the other conferences bowed to football and the money present (which they receive very little) in order to keep everyone involved in basketball, which does help other conferences a little (although the five or six major conferences receive over 60 percent of the NCAA Tournament television revenue).
The NCAA continues to shy away from a true Olympic model, with the five major conferences continuing to say this might give someone an unhealthy advantage (what do these guys have right now, if not an unhealthy advantage).
Either way, the rich got richer, the poor got poorer and the playing field became even more tilted toward the power conferences at the meetings in January.
But the O’Bannon case continues and that is still going to have major consequences on the NCAA. One thing that Judge Claudia Wilkens ruled that could go in the NCAA’s favor is that O’Bannon’s lawyers will have to prove that NCAA broadcasts are commercial broadcasts. New stories help to prove their point.
A recent story by the Alabama Online site produced documents that stated that 14 NCAA Universities receive over $3 million annually on apparel and shoe contracts, led by the University of Michigan’s $6 million deal. (Read story Here)
Another story, this one by sportsbusinessdaily.com quotes Desser Sports Media President Ed Desser saying that NCAA telecasts are more commercialized than professional sporting events. (Story)
Desser went on to say that college sporting events could be classified as an infomercial for that specific college.
Before you disagree, think about this. Most college broadcasts have at least one commercial promoting the University, and often more than one.
The O’Bannon case is going to be an eye opener for the NCAA and the major five conferences are going to end up paying a heavy price.