SBD/February 8, 2013/Colleges

Ed O'Bannon Antitrust Case Could Be "Greatest Legal Threat" To NCAA

O'Bannon's lawsuit could result in a payout of billions of dollars
Perhaps the "greatest legal threat to the NCAA is the class action suit filed" by former UCLA F Ed O'Bannon, according to Alexander Wolff of SI. The case has been "picking up plaintiffs" including Basketball HOFers Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson, and O'Bannon's lawyers have "successfully added current college athletes to the complaint." The latest ruling will "increase pressure on the NCAA to settle and to do so on plaintiffs' terms." The case "could result in a payout of billions of dollars if it were to reach a jury." The discovery also has "revealed the breathtaking value of the business the NCAA conducts with its broadcast, licensing and marketing partners, none of whom are happy to be divulging their trade secrets" (SI, 2/11 issue). GRANTLAND's Charles Pierce wrote the O'Bannon suit is the "meteor" the NCAA "never saw coming." And if it "hits, and it's more than likely that it will, it will be an extinction-level event for college sports as we know it." It also could "force the development of a more equitable system in which the people who do the work get a decent share of the profits. All the profits." As the TV "revenues soared and marketing opportunities boomed, the deal got all out of whack." The athletes have "found a fair and level field on which to contest the NCAA's control over their lives, and the stakes are as high as they can be." The public has "started to turn around on the issue, too." For the NCAA to "survive in its current form, it has to win this lawsuit or get the lawsuit dismissed." There is "no third alternative." The NCAA "can't settle and then go back to the status quo ante" (GRANTLAND.com, 2/6).
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