Ed O’Bannon Trial: The NCAA Looks So Bad

While I’m thankful ESPNU has made a habit of re-broadcasting the 2013-2014 bowl season recently, the viewing of these games has begun to serve as a reminder that even though the start of the season is near, it’s still nine weeks away.

Is there anything outside of team previews to really dive into when we haven’t even blown up fireworks yet?

Well, let’s give it a shot.

The Ed O’Bannon case has been good for at least one “laugh out loud” moment every day, and the NCAA has done itself zero favors. After 15 days of testimony, and countless faulty NCAA arguments, the antitrust trial has come to a close. We may not know the outcome until August, but it’s hard to imagine Judge Claudia Wilkin ruling in favor of the “ good cartel.”

Stewart Mandel wrote a bold piece in which he states he would certainly rule in favor of the plaintiffs. As Mandel points out, not once did the NCAA call a single student-athlete to its defense, and where in the world were people within university athletic departments? You would also think the NCAA would benefit from the testimony of a college coach.

While it’s true Judge Wilkin would not allow any college athlete who appeared in a televised game since 2005 to testify, the NCAA still chose to use what could be viewed as out of touch old guys to make the case for the defense.

Keep in mind the three amigos the NCAA chose to use as “witnesses” Jim Delany, Chris Plonsky and Diane Dickman, have a financial stake in the NCAA.

Instead the good cartel relied on what still feels like an enormous stretch, that amateurism rules promote an integration of academics and athletics. In what unhinged mental state did the NCAA feel this was the rock solid line of reasoning to charge into battle with?

Is anyone really supposed to buy a college football or basketball player ruining the “integration of academics and athletics” because they’re getting paid? Some college athletes are more focused on their sport, than the classroom without earning money. If we’re talking about a “minimum wage salary,” then what is the difference between a student working full-time while taking college courses?

The only compelling defense came from Conference USA Commissioner Britton Banowsky, who stated, “My sense is that some schools will probably try to figure out how to make it work. Other schools will probably say we’re not going to pay licensing fees because we don’t have the resources. Some may… decide to do something radical, like discontinuing sponsoring football. They’re looking at a tight budget as is.”

But as USA Today pointed out the data provided by the plaintiffs showed C-USA revenues increased from $30 million in 2002-03 to nearly $59 million in 2011-12. Athletic budgets also experienced significant growth, as did Banowsky himself ($328,000 during his first year as commissioner. Now his annual base salary is $500,000).

After 15 days of presenting faulty premises that were countered seemingly every time by team O’Bannon, the antitrust trial is over and it’s obvious what the secret plan of the NCAA has been all along. They’re really in favor of paying college athletes. So, they thought of the best ways to make themselves look as stupid as possible so they would ultimately lose, and the student athletes would win…..Right?