Today, as you may have heard, is a big day in the O’Bannon case. A federal judge is scheduled to hold a hearing on whether to certify the case as a class action. In advance of that, some more information filed by the plaintiffs became available, information that, if accurate, isn’t exactly flattering to the NCAA.
And other newly revealed parts of the plaintiffs’ document offer insight on the types of discussions that allegedly were occurring among the NCAA’s staff about all of this, including the degree to which NCAA officials were feeling pressure to please various corporate partners.
At least five “high-level NCAA employees expressed concern about the ‘obvious’ use of likenesses,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote. The five were identified in a footnote as Dennis Poppe, former vice president of championships and alliances; Damani Leech, director of championships and alliances; Joe Dunn, associate director of corporate alliances; Gail Dent, associate director of public and media relations; and Kevin Lennon, another vice president.
Again referencing an accompanying exhibit document that remained under seal as of late Wednesday night, the plaintiffs’ lawyers also wrote that even though members of the NCAA’s rules-interpretation staff had the view “that using the images of [student-athletes] to promote products was ‘contrary to our amateurism principles,’ more senior officials at the NCAA reminded [rules-interpretation staffers] that ‘(w)e, as you point out, are trying to realize revenue from these videos that continue to promote the championships and keep our corporate champions and partners happy so that they continue to provide revenue to the NCAA membership.’ Bo Kerin of (the rules-interpretation staff) responded, ‘I hear you loud and clear!’.”
That amateurism stuff is just for amateurs.