In the midst of the World Cup, the NBA and NHL Finals, and the US Open, the Edward O'Bannon vs. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) trial is capturing the public’s attention. Federal Judge Claudia Wilken may be the most influential person in college sport at this time as she will help decide the fate of the NCAA’s business model.
One of our own from the National Consortium for Academics and Sports (NCAS), Ellen Staurowsky, former NCAS Coordinator at Ithaca College, is now part of the case. She has been called to take the stand.
The NCAA and EA SPORTS recently settled their case with the former student-athletes for $20 and $40 million, respectively, over likeness rights of the student-athletes. It is estimated that the settlement would cover around 100,000 student-athletes and provide between $48 and $951 for each year his or her image was used in a video game. The story is far from over.
Of course, the Northwestern University's player union remains in the mix and the NCAA has undoubtedly come to the point where it sees that traditional business practices are no longer being accepted by society and the market.
Whether O’Bannon wins the case and student-athletes are able to individually negotiate their own licenses and contracts or the NCAA continues to control their most valuable assets, the NCAA is being shaken up. The question is how definitions, terms, and clauses in the NCAA’s 432 page manual will likely change.
While the how is unclear, change is coming. I hope the leaders are up to the challenge and are willing to make the necessary adjustments not just for their bottom line, but in the best interest of all parties, especially our student-athletes.