The judge in the O’Bannon case has ordered the plaintiffs to add a current college student-athlete to the litigation roster. Andy Staples speculates that
The player who steps forward will need to be either a football or men’s basketball player. For maximum effect, he’ll need to be a starter at a school in either the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC. He’ll need to be the type of player who gets lots of screen time when ESPN or Fox or CBS shows his team’s games. Essentially, he needs to be the type of player the networks are paying to show, even though an NCAA attorney argued — with a straight face, no less — on Thursday that networks merely pay for exclusive access to the venues and not the right to film the players at work.
Whomever that player may be, he’s going to take some heat. And he’ll be looking at facing Manziel-level media attention.
Any player who does will get ripped in the media and by fans who want to cling to the illusion that sports with billion-dollar television deals are amateur enterprises. That player will have to be strong. Coaches and athletic directors will want him to fail, because money diverted to athletes means less money for them.
So here’s this morning’s question for you: what if that player – Staples’ “Curt Flood” – is, say, Todd Gurley? Would it change your perception of him? And before you answer that question, ask yourself first if this fact makes any difference:
… According to the U.S. Department of Education, the average tuition at a four-year public school cost $2,550 in 1980. By 2011, that number had jumped to $15,918. That’s more than five times the price. That’s a steep rise. Now let’s look at the growth in revenue for one of the nation’s most successful conferences. In 1980, the SEC distributed $4.1 million to its member schools. In 2013, it distributed $241.5 million. That’s more than 58 times the 1980 figure…
Oh, and one more thing. It’s not as if the NCAA shouldn’t have seen this coming.
… Steve Mallonee, the NCAA’s managing director of membership services, sent an email to Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s vice president for membership services. The email came after a Princeton compliance official wrote to David Berst, the NCAA’s vice president for Division I, asking how EA Sports’ NCAA Football 06 could include such accurate, identifiable information about current players. Berst asked Lennon and Mallonee for an answer. Mallonee provided it. He closed with a question of his own.
“The jersey number along with the position and vital statistics is clearly an attempt to have the public make the association with the current student-athlete,” Mallonee wrote, according to a copy of the email placed in the O’Bannon case file by the plaintiffs. “And it appears to be working. The Best Damn Sports Show was aired several weeks ago and had Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush acknowledging that they were in the video game.
“That then raises the issue of whether getting in line with technology means being more restrictive or lenient with our rules. The article would imply that we might relax our rules a bit. The biggest concern I have is that such a position really does allow for the maximum commercial exploitation of the [student-athlete] and if that occurs, will it be long before we can defend not giving them a piece of the profits?”
That e-mail was sent eight years ago. It’s amazing it’s taken this long for the NCAA to have to face the consequences… assuming there are any beyond legal fees.
But enough of that and back to the original question. How much would it change your perception of the player and the sport if it were a Dawg who stepped forward to become the face of the O’Bannon complaint?