Category Archives: The NCAA

‘I’m just going to go toe to toe with this fool and see what happens.’

The O’Bannon trial is over.  Now we wait for the judge’s ruling and the inevitable rounds of appeals, both to the courts and Congress.  Final word goes to the lead plaintiff:

To O’Bannon, his biggest surprise was that Wilken never threw out the plaintiffs’ claims all those years ago.

You know what, Ed?  I bet the NCAA feels the same way.

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Talk about your smoking gun.

O’Bannon watchers, you want proof of competitive balance?  Mark Lewis, NCAA executive vice president for championships and alliances, son of Bill Lewis and – most significantly – former Georgia walk on, has your proof of competitive balance right here.

That’s the best evidence the NCAA has presented all trial.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., The NCAA

With defendants like these…

Yesterday’s star witness for the NCAA, Daniel Rubinfeld, a professor of law and economics at Berkeley, was reduced to splitting hairs over the definition of a cartel because – I shit you not – he’s the author of an economics textbook that’s been published for more than a quarter-century with a section entitled “The Cartelization of Intercollegiate Athletics” that contains the following passage:

“The cartel organization is the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA),” Rubinfeld’s textbook said. “The NCAA restricts competition in a number of important ways. To reduce bargaining power by student-athletes, the NCAA creates and enforces rules regarding eligibility and terms of compensation.”

Rubinfeld said he will likely revise his textbook’s definition of NCAA cartel.  Maybe defense counsel can postpone O’Bannon until the next edition is published.

Rubinfeld wasn’t the only one having issues with cartels.  So were the lawyers who put him on the stand.

Said Curtner: “Mr. Hausfeld keeps bringing up restraint, restraint, restraint. We acknowledge there’s a restraint. That’s what creates the product as a differentiated product.” As recently as Wednesday, NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy described the NCAA not paying players as “alleged restraints.”

I continue to marvel over these folks thinking going to trial was their best strategy.

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You may say Donald Remy’s a dreamer…

So yesterday, the NCAA took the position that since it’s possible another organization could choose to pay college players, there’s no antitrust problem.  No, really.

NCAA economic expert Lauren Stiroh testified that if, as the plaintiffs allege, college athletes are meaningfully restricted under antitrust law from being paid for their names, images and likenesses, universities outside the NCAA would be attempting to “fill in the gap” by paying players.

“So some rival NCAA would try to round up other schools not in the NCAA?” U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken asked, sounding skeptical.

Stiroh explained that numerous college athletic associations could pay players, starting with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Since O’Bannon economic expert Roger Noll previously said the NCAA doesn’t compete with these associations, the market should correct itself if there’s an NCAA restriction based on antitrust analysis, Stiroh said.

… Grand View University in Iowa, the NAIA football champion last season, reported athletic department revenue of $6.3 million in 2012-13. Florida State, the national champion in major college football, listed its revenue at $89.1 million.

NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said it’s not a question of whether the NAIA or others have the finances to be competitive. Rather, Remy said, Stiroh’s point is that within the context of antitrust analysis, other organizations that don’t have the NCAA’s alleged restraints could compete in that space by paying players. Remy cited as an example the USFL’s entry into professional football to compete with the NFL.

“There’s no restraint on the rest of the world from developing the product that the plaintiffs’ lawyers want and competing against the collegiate model of athletics that the NCAA has had for 100 years, and say ours is better,” Remy said.

You can stop chuckling any time now.  Since we’re engaging in hypothetical possibilities, here’s mine for the day – let’s say that a number of NAIA teams with wealthy alums/boosters wake up one day and decide to take Remy up on his invitation, and let’s say further it turns out they’re wildly successful channeling Donald Trump hiring Herschel Walker so that both elite recruits sign with and established D-1 players transfer to NAIA programs.  What kind of song would you expect to hear Remy’s constituents warbling then?

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Another day in (O’Bannon) paradise

Today’s big witness was NCAA survey expert John Dennis, who explained that his work showed paying players would have a devastating impact on college football fan support.

Sounds very scientific.  One little problem:  garbage in, garbage out.

Elvis Costello does the math on that.

You can read Jon Solomon’s Twitter feed for how plaintiffs’ counsel carved Dennis’ testimony up.  Sadly, he was considered one of the better witnesses the NCAA has put on the stand.

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Now that you’ve brought it to our attention…

The most Georgia thing ever would be for the NCAA to announce an immediate investigation of this.

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Filed under Georgia Football, The NCAA

When logic and proportion have fallen sloppy dead.

Britton Banowsky, I’ve got a question for you:  if, as you say, colleges continue to seek joining Division I based on uniting a university and bringing alums back to campus as opposed to financial considerations, then why would paying players cause schools to drop football?

As always, when they say it isn’t about the money, it’s about the money.

According to data provided by the plaintiffs, C-USA revenues increased from $30 million in 2002-03 to nearly $59 million in 2011-12. Athletic budgets also experienced significant growth, as did Banowsky himself.

East Carolina’s men’s basketball team, for example, netted $642,000 in 2000 according to date collected by the Department of Education. In 2012, the school pulled in a cool $3 million. Rice football went from earning $2.2 million in ’02 to more than $40 million two years ago.

Coaching salaries have gone up along the way, as have those for athletic directors and conference commissioners.

By his own account, Banowsky said he was paid $328,000 during his first year as commissioner. Now his annual base salary is $500,000.

Part of that is due to the lucrative television contract C-USA has with Fox and CBS. The two television companies agreed to pay Banowksy’s league $84 million over a six-year period.

“There is more revenue flowing into the system than ever,” Banowsky testified. “But we’ve seen growth in expenses. As revenues are flowing in, it’s just plowed back into the athletics.”

Plowing sounds pretty lucrative.  And keep in mind this is coming from the commissioner of a mid-major conference.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Is amateurism all or nothing?

Charlie Pierce has been covering the O’Bannon trial.  He may be on to a way to split the amateurism baby here:

… Heckman had just answered a question about the central issue of the case: whether NCAA athletes like the plaintiff, former UCLA All-American Ed O’Bannon, have signed away the rights to their names, images, and likenesses to the NCAA based on its purported code of amateurism, and whether, by enforcing that purported code — even after athletes’ eligibility has ended — the NCAA has been acting in restraint of trade and in violation of antitrust laws. Wilken was curious about one point.

“Are you saying,” she asked Heckman, skepticism edging every word like a razor, “that being paid for your name, image, and likeness is the same as being paid for the activity itself?”

I nearly sprained my neck. Jesus, I thought to myself, this thing may have been over for weeks.

If Wilken believes that payment for an athlete’s name, image, and likeness is something different from being paid simply for playing the game — that it constitutes something not in violation of the rules regarding amateurism, but rather something outside of them — then that’s the ballgame. Everybody can grab a beer and go home…

But separating payment for likeness from payment for activity would also give the NCAA a graceful way to accept defeat.  Assuming the presidents are in the mood to do any such accepting, of course.

Eh, forget I mentioned it.

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Tuesday morning buffet

Have a bite or two…

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Filed under College Football, Crime and Punishment, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Recruiting, SEC Football, The NCAA

Amateurism for thee, not for me

Charlie Pierce relates a little story that nicely illustrates the NCAA’s have its cake and eat it, too attitude:

… The NCAA and its member schools (pardon me, its “educational institutions”) create the game itself and, therefore, are entitled to all the revenues thereby derived, out of which they give the athletes tuition, fees, room and board, and miscellaneous expenses while providing those athletes with invaluable life skills and social mobility. But the NCAA and the educational institutions get all the money. Forever. This, as Emmert argued, and as was argued by the NCAA in one of its pretrial briefs, was for the good of the athletes because the NCAA does not want to see them “exploited” by corporate interests, or at least by those corporate interests with which the NCAA has not yet signed a lucrative partnership deal.

It is here where we pause to discuss the Curious Case Of Zach Bohannon. He was a 6-foot-6 swingman for the Wisconsin Badgers this past season, when he and Wisconsin made it to the NCAA Final Four. He also was working toward his MBA. He arrived at one of the Wisconsin practices with a bottle of water from Nestlé Pure Life. The NCAA’s official bottled water is Dasani, a division of NCAA “corporate partner” Coca-Cola. Arena security stopped Bohannon — a player in last year’s Final Four — and made him take off the Nestlé label before they would allow him to practice with his team. Bohannon told a reporter, “The NCAA likes to hide behind its student-athlete model. Well, they can’t hide anymore.”

Tell me something, O Defenders of the Sacred Flame – is not paying the participants all it takes to declare a sporting enterprise amateur?  Because everybody else sure seems to be feeding at the trough.

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