Righting a Wrong: Ed O'Bannon Takes The NCAA To Court

Mats EngdahlCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2009


As I've stated in previous articles for this and other sites, when it comes to pomposity and sanctimony, no organization on Earth can equal the NCAA.

There is no more maddening a bureaucracy; the history of the NCAA is years of arbitrary rulings justified by the delusional premise of "protecting the student athlete and the integrity of collegiate sports." 

The NCAA tries to stop athletes profiteering off their circumstances while it exploits their successes and visibility. Once an athlete's four years are up, the NCAA should, theoretically, have no more rights or interests in their life.

But the Association seems to believe it has eternal rights over an athete's profitability 

Ed O'Bannon, however, is trying to upset this one-sided partnership.

O'Bannon is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit on behalf of all former D-1A football players and men's basketball players filed in San Franciscan federal court on Tuesday.

If he should win, it would mean that the NCAA would become responsible for paying out $4 billion in revenue to the athletes whose likenesses have been used in every thing from advertisements to video games.

Start a petition. Picket the court house. Get Marvin Miller out to lead the charge. The NCAA is being stripped down.

What Curt Flood did for Major League Baseball players, Ed O'Bannon is trying to do for NCAA student-athletes.

The NCAA, and the universities it represents, will have to share some of their riches. The NCAA, which lords over its realm with impunity, will be knocked down a few.

This has nothing to do with current athletes, but if the suit should win, it might set the precedent for the NCAA lifting off some of the restrictions that hinder student-athletes in what they can and can't do in their personal lives.

It will also ensure that in the future, after they stop playing, current athletes will be able to grab some of the revenue that pours in solely from their accomplishments.

No players, no money from big companies. No stars, no "One Shining Moment" and billions from CBS. No football studs, no FOX BCS checks.

This may be of little consequence to players who succeed in the pros, but to those who may need the money as they graduate into more humble vocations, this could be life-altering.

Ed O'Bannon, car salesman, could get a little money to help put his three kids through college. True, it would be universities that would see that cash, but at least it wouldn't be from the checks O'Bannon makes on the car lot. The college would actually be making money the ethical way

O'Bannon, and the two high-powered law firms that represent him, could right a tremendous wrong. Think about football players who are horribly injured in their careers as college players or before they could get their pro careers off the ground.

Bobby Hurley, whose career as point guard for the Suns was derailed by an auto accident, has his image appear on numerous Duke telecasts each year. He could see some of that money.

David Pollack had a neck injury end his career. Every time his image pops up on a Georgia Bulldogs telecast, he'll see some profit to pay medical bills an expenses for his family.

NCAA athletes, especially football and basketball players, live blessed lives for the most part, vastly easier in some ways than the normal college student. But what the NCAA has done for decades is unethical and, as it will soon be prover, illegal.

I'm all for curbing the autocratic tendencies of the NCAA, and it appears that Ed O'Bannon and his skillful lawyers have found a way. If she's confirmed, the NCAA's inevitable appeal might even be one of Sonia Sotomayor's earliest rulings.

Let's hope she, and four other judges, rule in favor of the plaintiff.  


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.