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NCAA SET TO APPEAL; FINDS LITTLE SYMPATHY IN MEDIA
Published May 7, 1998
The NCAA's "upper crust" is moving toward a formal announcement that it will appeal the $67M verdict in the coaches restricted-earnings case, according to Steve Rock of the K.C. STAR. George Dennison, Univ. of MT President and a member of the NCAA Exec Committee, said, "The appeal is going forward at the recommendation of legal counsel." NCAA General Counsel Elsa Cole "contends that the NCAA wasn't allowed to fully defend its case during the trial." Cole: "We were never able to explain to the jurors that this coaching position was passed as an entry-level position." Despite the likely appeal, Rock writes that "some members of the extended family can't help but wonder whether that's the best idea." Kansas St. basketball coach Tom Asbury: "It's going to prolong it. It'll make the NCAA look foolish" (K.C. STAR, 5/7). USA TODAY's Jack Carey writes the decision could signify the "start of a potential sea of change for intercollegiate sports," and that more NCAA rules "could be threatened by other antitrust rulings." Tulane Sports Law Professor Gary Roberts said the NCAA "has thousands of these rules that could normally constitute a restraint of trade. The problem is they don't know which rules might be OK and which might be a problem" (USA TODAY, 5/7). REAX: A K.C. STAR editorial says the decision "reinforced" the NCAA's "reputation as an overbearing, bureaucracy-riddled organization." It concludes, "Given its contentious attitude through this entire matter, the NCAA likely will try for several more years to avoid paying the coaches the money they justifiably were awarded" (K.C. STAR, 5/7). In DC, Dick Heller writes the NCAA "got what it deserved," and adds that the "latest legal knock ... can only further reduce its dwindling control, perhaps to the point where it will be restructured or replaced as a governing body" (WASHINGTON TIMES, 5/7). In N.Y., William Rhoden writes the committee "had no business imposing restrictions" and the NCAA's lawyers "failed to see the monopolistic implications." Former ACC Commissioner Gene Corrigan, who chaired the committee which recommended the earnings rule, said it was meant to "enhance opportunity, not take it away," during a time of threatened cutbacks. Corrigan: "Only in America. You try to help someone and they turn around and sue you" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/7).