Generally when you hear that the NCAA is trying to block a request to depose school officials, it’s likely it’s from a fear that amusement will ensue, and that appears to be the case with the Alston litigation that Berman and Kessler are directing.
Friday’s filing pertains to a dispute over the plaintiffs’ request to depose five university officials, including Burke, who were interviewed by a defense expert as part the expert’s compilation of a report in the case. The NCAA and the conferences maintain that the plaintiffs are entitled to notes of the expert’s interviews with the five officials and a deposition of the expert, but they should not be allowed to depose the officials.
The expert, Kenneth Elzinga, covered a wide range of topics with Burke, according to the seven pages of notes from that interview, which say it was conducted Feb. 22 at Purdue in the presence of two attorneys from the law firm representing the Big Ten Conference in the case and an attorney from Purdue’s office of legal counsel.
“ … MB said that one can already see what the effect of changing the current model of student-athletics would be on this group. If the model were changed to a more professionalized version, the members of the John Purdue Club [the athletics department’s fundraising arm] would cut back in their giving and their level of interest in intercollegiate sports. ‘They see how much we’re getting from our media contracts and that the university is taking a cut,’ MB said. They ask him, ‘why are you asking us? You’ve got money.’
“Member [sic] of the John Purdue Club would not like the money going into athletes’ pockets beyond the cost of their attendance at Purdue. Some donors already are concerned about the level of services Purdue provides its student-athletes. MB and his colleagues have to explain why the services are appropriate. He believes that if he didn’t have those conversations, donors might act unilaterally and reduce the amount of money they give.”
This is, to put a word on it, hilarious. Fat cat donors who are already reluctant to give to the athletic department because it’s pulling in lots of Big Ten Network money are grumbling about what the school is currently shelling out to make student-athletes consider enrolling there and the school’s athletic director thinks that if those resources are redirected in the form of direct payments to the kids as opposed to the current direction of spending on staffing and infrastructure, it’s going to lead to a donor revolt.
I mean, let’s face it — when has a booster ever wanted to put money directly in a kid’s pocket? That’s unheard of.
He should be a real blast under oath.