“It’s not a public service. It’s purely to make money.”

I don’t know how many of you have been following the Ed O’Bannion case in which he’s suing the NCAA for using his likeness in video games without compensating him, but he got a nice win in a court ruling the other day which has the potential to lead to the disclosure of some interesting information.  In essence, the ruling leaves the NCAA’s licensing contracts – estimated to be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $4 billion – open to discovery.

Of course, be prepared for the hypocrisy charges to be laid out quite thickly.  In this case, they’re deserved.  But here’s the potentially ominous part for the suits:

… Michael McCann, a professor at Vermont Law School who specializes in sports law, called Monday’s ruling a “setback” for the N.C.A.A. He said that the case would probably be followed closely by members of Congress who were interested in the N.C.A.A.’s tax-exempt status.

Maybe it’s just more showboating grist for the political mill.  But it sure sounds like another stick/carrot Congress can dangle out there if it’s serious about reforming the football postseason.

I’m sure if a deal like that is cut one day, concerns about the players will be front and center.  After all, they’re from the NCAA and they’re here to help.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery, The NCAA

12 responses to ““It’s not a public service. It’s purely to make money.”

  1. Hogbody Spradlin

    It’s so easy to shaft the players in all this. They must be amateurs!

    And, don’t we know that the institutions have a monk like dedication to their charitable eleemosynary, philanthropic, educational, research, non-profit, higher calling. Hee Hee Hee Haw Haw.

    I’m surprised that one of the resident commie radicals at a college hasn’t stoked a labor uprising among the football players. Might be fun to watch.

    All kidding aside, the players at least deserve paid up long term disability policies against football related injuries.

    Your category title ‘Political Wankery’ is redundant.


  2. I doubt this would make much difference in the football postseason since the NCAA doesn’t explicitly run it.


  3. Chuck

    $4 billion? Never mind Congress, perhaps an IRS audit is due. That is a lot of “non-profit” money. I wonder what charitable or public interest groups the NCAA supports.


    • Hogbody Spradlin

      The licensing income is one of two animals for tax purposes: (i) it is non-taxable fund-raising for the charitable purpose, similar in substance to the tee shirts you buy whenever you participate in a local charity fund raiser, or (ii) it is unrelated business taxable income that the institution reports on a separate schedule of its annual IRS filing and pays tax on. In either case it is permissible as long as it’s an insubstantial portion (rule of thumb 5%) of the organization’s activities/revenue.

      $4 billion here and $4 billion there and pretty soon you’re talking about real money, but ponder that Americans spend $8 billion a year on potato chips.


  4. What’s interesting about this is that it potentially trickles down into any highlight reels that the NCAA has sold for advertising. How many times have you either seen the Laettner shot against Kentucky or the Flutie Hail Mary pass in ads? The NCAA could potentially owe them restitution for selling their likenesses in not only video games, but ads as well.


    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      I think we are talking about different things here. First, the 501(c)3 tax exempt status could be threatened if the income is too high (which it sure appears to be). Remember, our government is broke and looking for money everywhere. Second, O’Bannon is making a valid point: By playing a college sport are you agreeing to allow the NCAA to use your likeness/image forever in moneymaking activities? Suppose Brad Pitt had played soccer in college, scored a goal, ripped off his shirt at the end of a game and ran around acting crazy like soccer players do. Can the NCAA use a video of that as a promo to sell “NCAA Soccer” video games without compensating Pitt, who is now a movie star? Can they use it at all without his permission? The NCAA has been getting away with a lot of things that are going to come crashing down sooner or later and this seems to be one of them.


  5. Macallanlover

    I have no problem with the NCAA and schools owning/controlling the license rights, I just feel D1 football & basketball scholarships should come with a modest $100 per week spending allowance. (I exclude the other sports because they are generally unprofitable. Maybe that shouldn’t count but I am playing Darwin here. It may have to be optional since not all schools are profitable in thses sports after the CPA’s get through moving numbers around.)

    Students in the general population can have part-time jobs to earn spending money either off campus, or working for the school itself. I would consider time spent on these sports “jobs” that benefit the school, and prohibit the athlete from having other opportunities. Allowing poorer athletes money for gas, movies, etc., reduces the pressure for some to find other ways to fit in socially that may embarrass us all. Not justifying bad behavior, just stating this idea could help.


    • 69Dawg

      Title IX would never allow you to pay the footballers and not pay the girls.

      Think how much money was made by UGA on HW’s likeness, while he was playing. I was talking to a sports shop manager about college throwback jerseys. He had several Barry Sanders OSU etc. I asked about a Herschel Walker and he said Herschel had to give his consent for it to be sold and he had not as yet. I guess in that case the NCAA has been stopped.


      • Macallanlover

        I am sure you are right as to how that would get interpreted. That is why I propose you draw the line at sports that are revenue positive, hence the Darwin reference. Nothing says females cannot play any sport open to males, actually only the opposite is true. Women’s basketball is a revenue producer at some schools, and males that play golf, baseball, etc., would be excluded equally. Of course, equality isn’t what most people really want when they whine about “unfair”…..same is true in society.


  6. Normaltown Mike

    -“Did you hear O’Bannion flunked?”

    -“Yeah, what a dumb shit”