Charlie Pierce has been covering the O’Bannon trial. He may be on to a way to split the amateurism baby here:
… Heckman had just answered a question about the central issue of the case: whether NCAA athletes like the plaintiff, former UCLA All-American Ed O’Bannon, have signed away the rights to their names, images, and likenesses to the NCAA based on its purported code of amateurism, and whether, by enforcing that purported code — even after athletes’ eligibility has ended — the NCAA has been acting in restraint of trade and in violation of antitrust laws. Wilken was curious about one point.
“Are you saying,” she asked Heckman, skepticism edging every word like a razor, “that being paid for your name, image, and likeness is the same as being paid for the activity itself?”
I nearly sprained my neck. Jesus, I thought to myself, this thing may have been over for weeks.
If Wilken believes that payment for an athlete’s name, image, and likeness is something different from being paid simply for playing the game — that it constitutes something not in violation of the rules regarding amateurism, but rather something outside of them — then that’s the ballgame. Everybody can grab a beer and go home…
But separating payment for likeness from payment for activity would also give the NCAA a graceful way to accept defeat. Assuming the presidents are in the mood to do any such accepting, of course.
Eh, forget I mentioned it.