NCAA: Ed O'Bannon Lawsuit Must Be More Effective for There to Be Notable Changes

Erick FernandezCorrespondent IISeptember 1, 2013

LANDOVER, MD - AUGUST 24: Quarterback Kevin Kolb #4 of the Buffalo Bills is hit after scrambling against the Washington Redskins in the first quarter during a preseason game at FedExField on August 24, 2013 in Landover, Maryland. The Washington Redskins won, 30-7. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Disagreements between major sporting institutions and their players have been a glaring issue within the past few years.

And while the lawsuit against the NFL was “settled” this past week, the lawsuit against the NCAA is still in motion.

Let’s be honest: Has anything or will anything drastically change in the grand scheme of things because of the $765 million settlement? Probably not.

That idea may sound and seem absurd to many, but it's safe to say that the NFL organization as a whole was breathing the ol’ sigh of relief after reaching a settlement in the concussion lawsuit filed by about 4,500 former NFL players. You can imagine that Roger Goodell and the NFL owners will be sharing a few toasts and a few laughs over this news at their upcoming wine and cheese party.

The NFL will ONLY have to pay the sum of $765 million to about 4,500 former players over a span of 17 years. SEVENTEEN YEARS! For a company whose revenue has been growing exponentially since 1989? A company that earned roughly $9.5 billion in revenue last year and is projected to earn $18 billion by 2016?

2016 is only three years from now. Imagine how much revenue the NFL is going to be making in the year 2030 if it continues on this upward path and considering Goodell wants to reach the $25 billion mark by 2027. There's a chance a significant portion of these players may not even be alive by the time that last cent is given in 2030.

The NFL was able to bully the players by backing them into a corner. Former NLFPA president and Pro Bowler Kevin Mawae told that the recent retirees and current players will not benefit from this settlement. It was done to help "the neediest men...Especially the older players who helped lay the foundation of this game. We owe them that."

If this lawsuit ran any longer, which it ultimately would have, the former players that would need money the most would continue to suffer. As a result, time was not on the side for the group of 4,500 asking for retribution because of the percentage of players that needed immediate help.

Despite initially wanting a settlement of $2 billion, the group of players had to end up settling for only 38 percent of their initial settlement request

The NFL was able to do this without having to release records, which would have almost certainly exposed some questionable medical practices of some teams over the years. ESPN's Keith Olbermann recently highlighted Doug Kotar and the players association's plight to obtain medical records from the owners in the mid-1980s. In those 30-plus years, not much has changed apparently in that regard—former players are still disallowed from receiving those records in 2013.

Without those records from all the previous years, there is no harm, no foul. No exposing the potential corruption that existed during that time, as a result allowing the NFL to continue its daily operations. The NFL’s system is still intact and all they had to do was throw a few pennies (in relation to how much they are and will be earning in revenue) to a large group of former players. Business as usual.

This is very similar to a case that is currently going on. A case that could ultimately change the landscape of a major institution.

The O'Bannon vs. NCAA antitrust class-action lawsuit is the biggest case that has challenged the institution of the NCAA and actually has a chance of holding up in court. Ed O'Bannon, former UCLA basketball player, is filing this lawsuit on behalf of Division I college football and basketball claiming that the NCAA used the likenesses of thousands of players for commercial purposes without appropriate financial compensation.

As ESPN's Tom Farrey reports, if the case is certified as a "class-action" lawsuit, then those thousands of current and former players can and probably will enter the lawsuit.

The idea that the NCAA has used and still does use the image and likeness of players has been accepted as true in the eyes of many, even though the NCAA continues to refute that notion. Some former players and media analysts have even gone out and exposed the NCAA’s hypocrisy. But as previously mentioned, this is the most notable case that has been brought against the NCAA in a court of law and will determine whether the organization has acted unlawfully.

Despite the NCAA's attempt to get this case pushed back until the end of time, the entire organization could be in major jeopardy in the coming years.

While the athletes on the O'Bannon side have already won the case against EA Sports, which will likely result in a large settlement, their case against the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company will continue on.

Although this case is not likely to be settled for years, the dark clouds seem to be looming over the NCAA's parade right now.

In terms of the current settlement going on within the NFL, the NFL has refused to take on any culpability because of the potential "gray area" that exists medically with all of these former players. But if you think the NFL wasn't at fault at all, do you think they would willingly give $765 million to about 4,500 players? Give me a break.

There does not appear to be as much gray area with the O'Bannon case: They either did use players' likeness and images or they did not.

You better believe the NCAA will go down swinging, because unlike the NFL, their whole operation might be more in jeopardy.

Oh how the NCAA loves their "Student Ath-o-leets."

Many feel as if the NFL got off essentially unscathed with the settlement reached, but for there to be major changes in the NCAA’s landscape, Ed O’Bannon and company will have to fight this one out until the end.


Erick Fernandez is the creator of No Layups

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