SBD/June 9, 2014/Colleges

O'Bannon Trial Just One Of Several Legal Battles Facing Mark Emmert, NCAA

Emmert is expected to testify today in the O'Bannon case
Since NCAA President Mark Emmert took over in '10, his organization has "faced a relentless barrage of criticism, most commonly accusations that it perpetuates what some think is the exploitation of young athletes," according to Strauss & Eder of the N.Y. TIMES. The NCAA today is "scheduled to begin its toughest challenge yet" in the Ed O'Bannon case, and Emmert is "expected to testify." The case is "one of several legal battles" that Emmert and the NCAA face. In another, a "union movement wants players treated as employees," while a "separate lawsuit wants them to be free agents." If the NCAA is "under siege," Emmert has "become the face of the resistance." To his detractors, Emmert "embodies everything wrong with the college sports model that, critics say, rewards executives and coaches on the backs of free labor." Emmert said, "I don’t think I’m hypocritical at all. I’ve been advocating more support for student-athletes since the day I walked in the door and before that.” Strauss & Eder note Emmert has been "tasked with leading the defense against the attacks on the NCAA's amateurism model," efforts that he said could lead to the “end of college sports as we know it.” Emmert: "If you look at whether or not there are enough resources in college sports to do more for student-athletes, my answer is unequivocally ‘Yes.'" But during his tenure, some "think the NCAA has been slow to adopt measures that grant players a greater share of the growing spoils." Emmert’s "unapologetic style has also resulted in public relations gaffes, fueling hostility among fans, particularly on social media." Arizona State President Michael Crow said, “He is one of the biggest reformers there is. He doesn’t want the status quo in any possible way" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/9).
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