The NCAA’s athletic business model is in peril – and they know it. A lawsuit, originated by former UCLA Bruin Ed O’Bannon – which currently includes Bill Walton and Oscar Robinson among the many plaintiffs over revenues from video games – and other products using the former players; names, images or likeness, continues to gain steam in the courts. While denying the concern over losses in the courtroom, the NCAA announced on Tuesday it would not continue its relationship with EA Sports – maker of the NCAA-Football video game. That game happens to be the companies third most popular – behind FIFA and Madden series.
In mid-June, a federal judge in California held a hearing to determine whether to certify the case as a class action suit. The certification decision is expected later this summer, and if approved could result in hundreds of millions of losses if O’Bannon and company were to win their suit. That amount would easily jump to the billions if current players were to join the suit and attack television money that brings an estimated $1.5-billion into NCAA coffers annually.
Former sports marketing executive Sonny Vaccaro – best known for his long tenure at Nike where he signed Michael Jordan to his first sneaker contract, was IN THE LOOP this morning, believing that a current player would join the suit in the next 24 hours. Below is the link to the “money statement.”
While Vaccaro gave no indication as to who [or whom] he thought would be the first collegiate athlete to join the lawsuit, to me, the athlete most impacted by the current NCAA rules is none other than reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Lets face it, A&M is making millions off Johnny Football, and he’s not seeing a dime of it. Might he be willing to add to his controversial off-season by going after his “fare share?”
And the bigger question to me is, how would Aggie fans feel if their legendary quarterback helped kill the sport – at least as we know it today.