Ed O’Bannon case plaintiffs have scored a significant victory in legal proceedings against the NCAA. The judge will permit expansion of their claim to live broadcast revenue as well as rebroadcast revenue. This decision expands the potential liability, into the billions of dollars. It forces the NCAA to argue the merits of the case in court.
This ruling continues what has been a substantial couple of weeks for the NCAA. The organization embarked on Mark Emmert’s touchstone project, rationalizing the rulebook. The reforms were overshadowed, though, by the NCAA scuttling its Miami investigation through its own improper conduct and by the continued unwillingness to take inconvenient action against North Carolina football and basketball over an academic scandal. The POTUS also kindly suggested the NCAA address player safety, an issue more important than the insidious “athletes using marijuana like any other students” epidemic.
NCAA authority rests on a smoke cloud that is clearing rapidly, even for athletic directors. The present amalgam of problems is existential. Comprehensive reforms to what have become de facto professional sports are inevitable. Whether the current leadership can respond proactively, striking a broad compromise on “amateurism” and refocusing efforts toward protecting student athletes, remains to be seen.
[Photo via USA Today Sports]