The Chinese water torture of the O’Bannon suit

Every document dump that comes out in the O’Bannon case is a revelation.  There’s a steady drip, drip, drip of news about NCAA misjudgment that makes you shake your head about why the organization hasn’t quietly settled this.

This go ’round we learn that the NCAA higher-ups knew exactly what EA Sports was up to with player likenesses.  Miles Brand was a little uncomfortable about it.

In an August 2007 e-mail exchange among then-NCAA president Myles Brand, another top NCAA official Tom Jernstedt, and the NCAA’s then- senior vice-president for basketball and business strategies Greg Shaheen, Brand observed that he “seriously doubts” college presidents would vote to allow the use of student-athlete names and likenesses in commercial products, including video games.

And in response, Shaheen steps in it.

Shaheen replied that he agreed but wanted to make two points, one of which was “the names and likenesses are rigged into the games now by illegal means, meaning that many of the video game players have the features, it’s just that our membership doesn’t benefit from it. [Emphasis added.]… In the end, in college basketball … we will lose the game because the sales numbers show we can’t sustain the game if it doesn’t meet the pace of realism that the other games do EA will simply pull out of this category.

“It certainly isn’t the end of the world, but it is a few million dollars (ultimately $4 to $8 million a year in the current model; more if the name/likeness matter could be solved) that we would lose. And, for college basketball to not have a video game will be a major limitation in our promotion of the game, especially to the young ages we are trying to reach.”

In other words, Shaheen told Brand that the NCAA should not just screw over the players with this.  Screwing its own membership was justified, too, in the name of promotion and a few extra bucks a year.  Nice.  And now everybody knows that.

I don’t know who finally signed off on fighting this suit in court, but five bucks says he or she is out of a job when this debacle concludes.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

12 responses to “The Chinese water torture of the O’Bannon suit

  1. AthensHomerDawg

    “A long dispute means both parties are wrong.” Voltaire


    • timphd

      Gotta disagree with Voltaire on this one. The NCAA is going to get hammered with this. There is such a trail of evidence that they not only knew that what they were doing was screwing over the athletes, and that their motivation was strictly money. I’m betting they lose this one so big that it changes the game completely. O’Bannon opened the door and the NCAA obligingly walked through it. Agree with the Senator, somebody is going to lose their job for deciding to fight this one.


  2. AusDawg85

    On a similar note, TAMU is supposedly working with the Manziel family to copyright/trademark “Johnny Football”…but of course, the family can’t profit from it now, so they’ll sell the merchandise and get back to them later.


  3. Cojones

    I’ve got the cases and lawsuits mixed up. I thought What’s-his-face from Colorado St had dropped this babay, or was that the “Pay’em to Play’em” endeavor? Or selling their equipment/awards for spending money?

    So the NCAA focus will now turn to STFU as a practical science. OK.

    I realize that this is categorized as “It’s Just Bidness”, but could we get chapters with a small reminder as to where we are in the discussion just so we could agree/disagree on the same nuance of this large umbrella of a subject (“The NCAA is bad for college ball as a greed model” or “Sticky Fingers that we all know and do nothing about” or “Screwing college players one-at-the-time and slowly”)? Just suggestin’ for some of us who blog under categories such as “What Day is It”, “The Memory of my last stroke”, “Forget, Hell”, “Light Strokes for Older Folks” (oops! got this one mixed up with my “Sex and how to do it” file).

    You ever have a day when you lose your smokes?


  4. paul

    Just the fact that the game designers have admitted that they were using actual athletes and their stats to create the games and simply removing their names at the end of the development cycle and that the NCAA both knew about and condoned this practice ought to be enough for the NCAA to lose. Spectacularly. All of which has been established by email trails at this point. So, regardless of who green lighted this fight to begin with, who is allowing the wound to continue to fester and ooze puss? Cut your losses and settle. Otherwise, a lot of schools will begin to seriously entertain the thought of cutting loose from the NCAA. Pe5rsonally, I think happens eventually anyway. But if I am one of the big boys, I’m wondering why I want to hang around and be tainted by the stank this suit continues to generate.


    • Cosmic Dawg

      Agree. Surely this admission opens the door to lawsuits by athletes whose likenesses were used – by the NCAA’s own admission – *illegally*?!? What a bunch of d-bags – they could have solved this years ago by creating a blanket agreement by which student athletes received a small cut of their jersey and likeness sales. By their own admission above, the increase in value by branding a jersey “Murray” or having a bb player’s actual name on EA would probably cover the difference!!!

      Talk about creating a problem where there never had to be one.


      • Joey

        Fun antidote related to this today:

        NCAA pulls all PSU gear from their shop this morning and told reports it was because of sanctions. Story changed to “glitch”. They put the gear back up, featuring jersey #25 prominently, which happens to be the number of expected star running back, now USC transfer Silas Redd.


  5. wnc dawg

    I laughed out loud when I saw the title “senior vice-president for basketball and business strategies”. I mean, come on. That pretty much sums it up right there. Those two spheres are extremely different, unless you are the NCAA and 90+% of all your revenue comes from the hoops tourney. Just the VP title alone exposes the sham of this.


  6. Chadwick

    If there is any justice in the world the NCAA will hang on a spit for this shit. Oh, please, please, please let Emmert be the guy who wanted this to go to court.