Hoisting the NCAA on its own petard is easier than it seems.

The O’Bannon plaintiffs’ trial strategy – use the NCAA’s own records to show contradictions in how the association has approached the use of athletes’ names and likenesses – is so obvious that it would be an act of blatant malpractice to do otherwise.

And it’s not like they have to work up much of a sweat doing it.

An e-mail chain from January 2008 in which an LSU athletics official asked whether Sports Illustrated could legally offer a DVD commemorating LSU’s football national title to customers who bought a subscription to the magazine and whether players who appeared in the DVD might face eligibility questions.

In the emails, then-NCAA membership services associate director Leeland Zeller writes back to the LSU official that an NCAA rules interpretation “clearly addresses” and prohibits “the use of the DVD as ‘premium’ in conjunction with a subscription. … Regardless, SI does this every year. If the school asks about it, they are advised to send a cease and desist letter, which preserves the eligibility of the student-athletes. SI ignores the letter and we all go on about our business.”

The NCAA mouthpiece had no comment in response to the article.  Unfortunately for the NCAA, that approach won’t work in court.

I keep waiting for some school president or conference commissioner to wonder out loud what Mark Emmert’s thinking.  But I guess we won’t hear that until the litigation goes badly.  Or ever.


Filed under The NCAA

10 responses to “Hoisting the NCAA on its own petard is easier than it seems.

  1. Russ

    So where does this all end up? What are the potential affects of the NCAA losing this case at trial?


  2. paul

    Everything I’ve read points to a crushing, devastating loss for the NCAA. The kind of loss that fundamentally changes everything. So we are left to wonder, “what are they thinking?” Either the NCAA knows something the rest of us don’t or they are perhaps the most incompetent organization known to man. As Albert Einstein once said, “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”


    • James

      My theory — no one at the NCAA wants to be the person that caved, because then all the people making money on this don’t, and in addition you’d have to have some kind of consensus on how exactly to cave, and I doubt any of these guys can agree. If 50% of the presidents from power schools tell Emmert to cave I doubt he has any issue doing so.

      This is on the power school presidents at this point, not Emmert and the NCAA (not that the latter didn’t get us here, mind you, but at this point…).


  3. 69Dawg

    I think this is NCAA brinksmanship. What they want is the Congress to come save them and I think they think if it looks like it’s going to end badly some of their friends in Congress will introduce a bill to grant them an exemption from all their troubles. It seems the Olympic model, with a stipend is the way to go but damn they are playing “Hot Potato” with a hand grenade.


    • I agree that Congress is a likely end game for the NCAA if things go badly, but I don’t think the way the organization has handled O’Bannon is intended as an invitation for government involvement. More like government involvement is a last resort.

      The NCAA really is that arrogant.


  4. Whatever is necessary to stop the madness even if it involves the government works for me.