Looks like the NCAA picked the wrong weasel to screw with in Sonny Vaccaro.
The press conference on April 7, 2008, was portrayed as a great moment for the sport of basketball. The NCAA and NBA had decided to come together to try to clean up summer basketball. NCAA President Myles Brand, NBA Commissioner David Stern and other stakeholders in basketball — college coaches, shoe company executives and AAU leaders — sat at a podium at the Final Four to announce their efforts.
They talked about what would eventually become iHoops, a for-profit organization run by the NCAA and NBA. The idea: Improve youth basketball coaching and officiating, help the skills of players, promote team play, and screen summer coaches and tournaments.
Sonny Vaccaro, the former shoe marketer widely credited with inventing the summer basketball scene, seethed as he watched the news conference. No one, not even Vaccaro, could have imagined his anger from a Final Four news conference would result in the high-stakes Ed O’Bannon lawsuit scheduled for trial next week.
“That day convinced me that they are immoral because what they did — in front of the world while they were applauded — was say they were going to control 15-, 16- and 17-year-old kids who aren’t even in their system,” Vaccaro said. “Sure, it hurt, because it was everything they said I did, they were going to do to control these kids. They were going to put $50 million in a pot and create iHoops because they didn’t want them to go pro. I knew in my own mind: That’s antitrust. You can’t have professional and amateur controlling this group. The NCAA made the biggest mistake in their life that day, as far as I’m concerned.”
Never underestimate the power of greed, ladies and gentlemen.