This summer hasn’t been an especially kind one to the NCAA in the court of public opinion, especially when it comes to the way in which current (and former players) are used by the organization.
A look into the Johnny Manziel case resulted in the discovery that the NCAA’s official online store did link individual players to their jerseys via the site’s search option. This option would later be disabled, and NCAA president Mark Emmert announced during a teleconference that the site would no longer sell player jerseys. And there was also the decision in another court to allow the lawsuit
With more people voicing their displeasure with the current system, there have been questions as to what impact the lawsuit filed by former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller against the NCAA and EA Sports would have on the current climate.
In late July the defendants’ claim that their use of player likenesses was protected by the First Amendment was denied by a circuit court of appeals, allowing the case that’s essentially been consolidated into the O’Bannon suit to proceed.
With the hits they’ve taken in the courtroom, it’s understandable if the defendants in the O’Bannon lawsuit (the NCAA, EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Company) felt the need to essentially “lick their wounds” and take some time to regroup. On Monday the NCAA requested that the trial, which currently has a start date of June 9, 2014, be delayed until August 28, 2015. The other two defendants requested that the start of the trial be delayed five months.
The plaintiffs issued a written request to U.S. Distirct Judge Claudia Wilken that she not push the start date back, thus giving her another matter to consider while also needing to rule as to whether or not the case will receive class-action certification.
Steve Berkowitz of USA Today provided a summary of the other matters on Judge Wilken’s plate regarding the O’Bannon suit:
An amended version of the complaint that added current college athletes to the list of named plaintiffs.
Motions that each of the defendants filed in response to amended version of the complaint. The NCAA and EA want the opportunity to seek their dismissal from the case before Wilken rules on class certification – and the NCAA wants the opportunity to conduct an extensive round of evidence gathering in conjunction with its presumptive bid for dismissal. CLC wants all but one of the current-athlete plaintiffs removed from the case and it wants the scope of the plaintiffs’ case to be reduced.
The parties’ inability to agree on a case schedule, which Wilken had asked them on Aug. 8 to negotiate and then file with her on Monday. Instead of an agreed-upon schedule, she got a 16-page joint statement that said early on: “The parties have not been able to reach any agreements on any of the topics discussed.”
In recent weeks there have been more than a few hypotheses as to what would happen to collegiate athletics should the plaintiffs win. However based on the many moving parts, it seems as if any changes to the current model won’t be happening for quite some time.