“Are we done with all the money?”

So yesterday, it was big Jim Delany’s turn to take the stand in O’Bannon.  The media reports seem to make it sound as if the plaintiffs unearthed a smoking gun from his testimony:  “O’Bannon trial: In defending NCAA, Jim Delany also helps plaintiffs” (USA Today); “Jim Delany reinforced plaintiffs’ key points in O’Bannon v. NCAA” (SI.com); “Big Ten’s Jim Delany ends up hurting NCAA in O’Bannon trial” (SBNation).  The reality is a little less dramatic than that.

Simply speaking, Delany was honest.  And as we’ve already seen throughout the trial, honesty doesn’t help the NCAA’s case, because that case doesn’t hold together logically.  Andy Staples describes:

Delany is tired of athletes being asked to spend all year on voluntary — read: mandatory — workouts. He’d like to see athletes get a chance to spend a semester abroad if they chose. He believes they are supposed to be students first. As he said all this, he admitted he remains very much in the minority among the policymakers in college sports on those issues. (Case in point: The schools have recently passed rules allowing football and basketball coaches to spend more time with their players in the offseason.)

That admission from Delany hacked several questions off his cross examination.

The plaintiffs have spent the entire trial trying to prove that in today’s NCAA, players are athletes first and students second. The NCAA’s attorneys and most of its witnesses have insisted that isn’t the case. They say the athletes are students who just happen to play sports. They say allowing football and men’s basketball players to sell their name, image and likeness rights would drive a wedge between the athletes and the student body. The plaintiffs contend the wedge was driven long ago and extra money in the pockets of the athletes won’t change that. Delany helped them make that case Friday by explaining the reforms he’d like to see that actually would make the players feel more like regular students and then by explaining that they’d get steamrolled if they came up for a vote.

Talk to a coach or an athletic director, and it becomes obvious such reforms are pipe dreams. The schools have moved too far the other way, and why should they go back? Football and men’s basketball are a multi-billion dollar business. Why shouldn’t the players hone their craft year-round? But if they do, plaintiffs’ attorneys say, they should get a cut of the action from schools that rake in cash on television deals such as the one Delany struck when he created the Big Ten Network.

Delany’s baby, a partnership with Fox that he said brings in about $110 million a year for the league’s schools, also got some unflattering time in court Friday. During Delany’s cross examination, Hausfeld showed a release form that Big Ten athletes were required to sign in 2007. Here’s what it said:

“I hereby grant to the [school] and The Big Ten Conference and their assigns the right to publish, duplicate, print, broadcast or otherwise use in any manner or media, my name, photograph, likeness or other image of myself for any purpose the [school] or The Big Ten Conference determines, in its sole discretion, is in the interest of the University of Illinois or The Big Ten Conference, including without limitation uses in promotional and marketing materials and uses by the Big Ten Network, CBS, ABC and ESPN. All such uses shall be consistent with all applicable NCAA and Big Ten Conference rules and regulations. I agree that neither I nor my heirs shall be entitled to any compensation for the use of my name, photograph, likeness or other image of myself.”

That’s an awfully broad release. After all, it spans generations. Delany called it “boilerplate.”

And while it might be standard legal language, it’s damaging to a case built on the idea that a market for the names, images and likenesses of college athletes doesn’t exist. “The NCAA and the schools have spent a lot of time studying — work groups, task forces, releases, contracts — and talking about name, image and likeness rights,” Isaacson said. “And they come into court and say ‘We’ve never really heard of this before.’ It hasn’t made any sense to us.” It probably hasn’t made much sense to Judge Claudia Wilken, either.

The stunning part of O’Bannon isn’t what’s coming out in court under oath.  It’s that the presidents thought it was in their best interests to go to court in the first place.

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33 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

33 responses to ““Are we done with all the money?”

  1. did I just get a Monistat ad on my computer?…Senator your on thin ice on this first day of summer.

  2. siskey

    Was a settlement offered that would have maintained the status quo or would any settlement represent (at least to the NCAA) a total shift from the current model? I can’t really foresee an NCAA as we know it in five-ten years.

  3. Dawgaholic

    As is often the case in civil matters, one side in the courtroom is in court because it has taken an irrational, or to put it more bluntly, idiotic position.

  4. AusDawg85

    ” I agree that neither I nor my heirs shall be entitled to any compensation for the use of my name, photograph, likeness or other image of myself.”

    No, son. You can’t have an attorney explain to you what that means. Just sign it.

    The bigger question is…what took so long for an O’Bannon lawsuit?

    • Macallanlover

      True, the red laser dot has been on collegiate sports’ temple for a long time. Lot of greedy sharks out there willing to pull the trigger, what did take so much time?

    • This is probably a stretch but you post reminded me of this book.
      Willful Blindness. Here is an interesting quote.

      ” Part of the reason is that the brain’s cognitive limits don’t let us absorb everything we encounter, she writes, so we must filter what we take in.”

      “Some of this filtering is beneficial. It “oils the wheels of social intercourse when we don’t see the spot on the silk tie, the girlfriend’s acne, or a neighbor’s squalor,” she writes. At a basic level, selective vision also helps us remain engaged and optimistic day to day.”

      “But Ms. Heffernan is chiefly concerned with the dangerous effects of this blindness. She offers a wide range of examples, including spouses who ignored evidence of a partner’s adultery, homebuyers who took on excessive mortgage debt, and companies whose compliant employees assumed “levels of risk beyond their ability to recover.”

  5. ctfain

    Please tell me some of these folks have opened themselves to perjury charges, and that someone will prosecute.

  6. Skeptic Dawg

    I still fail to see why these kids are entitled to more money than they already receive just because they are very good at what they do (we all know that no one is going to market Kolton Houston or John Theus. It will be Gurley, Mitchell, or Mason). The sole reason they are at University XYZ is because they are good. Their reward is housing, food, the greatest Nike gear, and a free education. I know I stand alone on this, but I just don’t see it. The Senator has done a great job of keeping us informed on the issue. Thank you! It just appears that we are about to lose the beauty that is college sports.

    • 79dawg

      College football and basketball have been operating on a semi-pro basis for at least the past 10-15 years… The beauty has been coming off the rose ever since…

      • HirsuteDawg

        If they are operating as semi-pro, will it be in the college’s best interest to continue? Would it not be better to go with the Ivy League model and let the “Pros” go their own way? The money is not going to education anyway.

    • You do not stand alone. Agree with you on all points. :)

    • mp

      It boggles my mind to think you are rationally asking that question. If you’re better at something that’s exactly why you should be able to get more! If you aren’t able to get paid what you’re worth because the powers that be are actively conspiring to cap your market price regardless of your ability – that’s anti-freedom, anti-capitalism, anti-American. I doubt the rest of your political thoughts are so fervently Socialistic, but maybe you should reexamine this one through a lens of economic freedom

      • Skeptic Dawg

        MP, I agree wholeheartedly with your premise. Fast food employees, bankers, lawyers, accountants and ditch diggers should be paid the most that is possible! Just not college athletes, nor any amateur athlete. I believe the value of the scholarship, job specific training, personal promotion, meals, physical training and everything else involved in the cost of a full college scholarship is more than sufficient. Call me old fashioned, but I believe the value of an education is priceless. What these kids do with their studies is up to them. They just don’t deserve to be paid at this level. We can agree to disagree.

    • 1996Dog

      Because that’s what a free market would say they’re worth, and we’re a capitalistic country that believes in free markets. Also, the scholarship isn’t “free.”

  7. Dawgaholic

    Skeptic,

    Can you articulate why the schools should get all the money instead of the kids? Specifically, why should the Delaneys, Scotts, Emmerts, Slives, Sabans, Richts, etc. get so much while the players comparatively get so little?

    • Because that is the way CF is. It is not The NFL. Most of these guys will never get paid to play football. Education, housing, etc is all they should get.

      • mp

        “It should be that way because that’s the way it is.” Wow. So none of the reforms (instituted both organically and by outside reform efforts) that college football has done in the last 100 years were justified? Or they were, but now they got the system really, really perfect and nothing more needs to be done?

        • Dawgaholic

          Joyriding – you stole that line out of the NCAA’s theory of defense in this case a few months ago. And, in line with your reasoning, why shouldn’t coaches’ salaries have the same proportional relation to professors’ salaries as they did in the 1970s?

    • mp

      Bingo. Asking it more broadly, what is the justification for institutionalized amateurism?

    • Skeptic Dawg

      The universities are the entities with 100% of the financial investment. They are the ones bankrolling these kids. The schools pay for the incredible locker rooms. The colleges pay for the stadiums. Every red dime spent to enhance the players training, promotion, nutrition and quality of life is from the university. Most of these kids would not be in college if not for their athletic ability. They are given a golden ticket. Yes, these kids bust their tails working to improve at their sport and they sacrifice a ton as a college student. However, they are every well compensated by the many reasons I have listed above (and a multitude more that I have left out). Now ESPN, CBS, FOX and ABC forks over millions of dollars to the conferences and schools and someone decides these kids now deserve a piece of the pie. Why? Because the coaching staff put them in position to succeed for the team? Because the school marketed them to sell tickets or jerseys? The kids benefit from this beyond their wildest dreams…after college.

      • Dawgaholic

        Actually a lot of the kids seek out trainers and nutritionists on their own. And, as to your point about the schools setting up kids to succeed, can’t the same be said about the coaches?

        Further, is it really the schools that made the money to set up the facilities or the players of years ago? Do you think UGA has the same facilities it has today if Herschel, Greene, and Pollack went to UF or Auburn?

      • Gaskilldawg

        Skeptic, like it or not commercial entities cannot enter into agreements to set compensation. The companies in your industry made 100%of the financial investment in the industry that funds your paycheck. The companies in your industry pay for the incredible office you have. Every red dime spent on your compensation and benefits is from your employer. Every red dime spent on training you comes from your employer. The anti-trust laws say that, despite the above, if your company and the remaining companies in the industry all agree that you, Skeptic Dawg, and everyone else in the industry doing your job gets a set salary then that violates the anti-trust laws, EVEN IF YOU THINK THE SALARY SET BY COLLUSION IS A GREAT SALARY. It is the agreement that violates the ant-trust laws, not the level of compensation. You may hate that aspect of the ant-trust laws, but that is the law of the land.

        The issue in the O”Bannon trial is not whether the players have great enough locker rooms. Instead, the issue is whether FBS football and men’s basketball programs are commercial activities that fund educational activities or whether FBS football and men’s basketball programs are of themselves educational experiences and eight figure profits from televising the games are just serendipity.

        If the Judge finds that the big five conference football programs are actually business operations and they sell the names, images and likenesses of the players to the networks then she will conclude that the player’s names, images and likenesses have commercial value and the schools collude to pay the players zero dollars for their property interests in their names, images and likenesses. You think CBS did not promote itself as the network to watch to see Tim Tebow?

        The NCAA’s position is that the athletic departments are not selling to the networks any name, image or likeness. It argued to the Judge, with a straight face, that it does not sell to CBS actual images of games but instead sells CBS’s people access into the stadium. It also claims that players are just regular kids playing what amounts to a glorified intermural sport. It also argues that compensating a 21 year old a few bucks for his name, image or likeness would exploit the 21 year old in a manner unlike Nike paying John Calipari a million dollars for a whoosh on his image.

        Those are the choices the Judge faces. Unfortunately, how great Todd Gurley’s player’s lounge isn’t part of the consideration.

        • Skeptic Dawg

          Gaskilldawg, you have very succinctly laid out the bass tacks of this legal matter. You appear to be more knowledgable in the law than I. That being said, I still believe the value of a scholarship and all that it entails is more than enough for college athletes. I do not believe they deserve more than which they already receive. If ESPN, UGA, CBS, UF, and FOX make billions of dollars that is their right. I see no reason why the players should be entitled to anything above and beyond what they apps currently receive. I like to believe these kids are playing a sport while in college that they love in hopes of one day making money. Why should going to school for free plus making money be the dream?

          • Gaskilldawg

            If the players are just students engaging in recreation then they do not deserve anything. If they are contributing to a commercial endeavor then the anti-trust laws apply and the market, not you or me, dictates what they deserve. Me, I do not think any football coach deserves a million dollar a year income, but as everyone tells me the market dictates what coaches make. When I was in college Dooley made a salary on the level of a professor and I don’t think coaches deserve more, but no one cares because everyone says the market dictates, not my preferences.

          • Deserves got nothin’ to do with it, Skeptic. ;)

            But let me ask you a serious question: if there were no amateurism rule, do you think players would receive more compensation than they currently do?

            • Skeptic Dawg

              Senator if it was the Wild West then yes, kid would receive more because people are willing to give it to them. We’ve all seen what boosters are willing to do for kids (see Cam). I understand what my answer indicates, but that does not make it the right thing to do. We can point to countless random acts in the free market that put other companies out of business (see Wal-Mart). It is my opinion that paying the players will lead to the Great Depression for college sports.

              • I understand that paying players doesn’t suit your particular sense of how college athletics should be.

                But that’s not the same thing as saying the players don’t deserve any more than they currently get.

  8. 79dawg

    Well said.
    I pine for the romantic days of true student-athletes and giving it all for Georgia, but that is simply no longer reality. The problem is the universities could have helped reign things in 5 or 10 years ago by making some concessions (i.e. a stipend, a trust fund, etc.) that gave the players something, but instead they dug their heels in and said all you get is the scholarship (and oh by the way , since you now have to spend most of your time year-round on your sport, and were paranoid of violating any NCAA rules, you can’t get a job either).
    For those saying a scholarship is enough, consider this: while the cost of college has risen tremendously in the past 20 ( and particularly past 10) years, athletic revenue (and particularly, tv revenue) has increased exponentially over the same time period; it’s only the “monopoly” control of the NCAA that has kept the “wages” from rising. That’s really what I find most troubling and seems most exploitive and inequitable…