Editorial: Keeping An Eye On O'Bannon Trial

I'm not trying to be an alarmist but on my radio show we had quite a bit of conversation on Friday regarding the Ed O'Bannon and former collegiate athletes trial vs. the NCAA. The athletes as plaintiffs are seeking a change in the system allowing athletes to be paid as professionals for their image being used in games and other profit-making devices, as well as their image in televised games.

The plaintiffs have already settled with EA Sports over the NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball games they produced for many years.

As for the case with the NCAA and the schools, which will be decided in the courtroom by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, yes, the NCAA and schools are paid hundred of millions by the television networks for appearances in football and basketball.

However, unlike the NFL for instance, the money going to Division I college athletics is spread out over a huge umbrella. If you check the profit margin of Division I athletic departments you will find the Texas, Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, and Florida models where there is a big profit, however the majority of those athletic departments are just getting by if not operating in the red.

That television money pays for a lot of scholarships across the board including women's sports and non-revenue producing sports on the men's side.

Is that right? Should football and basketball athletes hold up the NCAA model of athletics? What if swimming and diving, water polo, wrestling, or crew were the popular sports and their television attraction and popularity were helping to foot the bill for football and basketball? Would they need to be responsible and sacrifice for the greater good?

Finally, is the NCAA model of amateurism that good? Has the NCAA done its job? We need to decide the value of the NCAA system over the years and the product it has put out, not the product on the field, the court, or the diamond but the graduates, the leaders, the productive citizens.

Does the college sports model of the NCAA do more good or should it be abandoned in order to get more money in the hands of the athletes who play the sports that bring in the money to make the wheels turn in college athletics and pay for the scholarships, the infrastructure, and the process?

Are college athletes, either the ones in premier sports like football or basketball or the ones in equestrian, volleyball, soccer, tennis, or golf being used and mistreated? Do they get enough food, medical care, support, etc.?

I'm the first one that will tell you the system can improve. I'm for guaranteed cost of graduation. I think once an athlete is brought into the system that as long as it takes and they put in the effort that the cost of getting them through to a bachelor's degree should be paid. Yes, I would like to see total costs of attendance come with every athlete's scholarship.

Better long-term medical care for athletes injured competing in college is something that should be in place. However, I support the model of bringing in students with athletic talents and helping to point them on a path to success in life through education. My son is a product of it. I've seen what it can do and the difference it makes in lives of young men and women that might not have otherwise had the opportunity.

This battle in the O'Bannon vs. the NCAA suit will go on. No matter what Judge Wilken decides there will be appeals. But I think we all need to decide what side we are on. You never know when your opinion or your vote may count.

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