On Thursday, Steve Fainaru and Tom Farrey of ESPN co-wrote a lengthy piece about the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA. But the story didn’t focus on the former collegiate star. It centered around the lead attorney, Michael Hausfeld. Despite knowing next to nothing about sports, it hasn’t stopped him from challenging the NCAA’s model.
Hausfeld wasn’t kidding. He had no clue who Manziel and Clowney were. Just as he had no clue who O’Bannon — the Final Four Most Outstanding Player in UCLA’s 1995 title run — was before O’Bannon agreed to place his name on the lawsuit five years ago. No clue who Oscar Robertson was before he was added as co-plaintiff. No clue about anything, really, related to sports, at least as it’s played between the lines.
But Hausfeld does have one big idea — that the people who run our games ought to play by the rules that govern society and industry — and that has made him one of the most powerful people in sports. He has gone after the NCAA for allegedly operating as an illegal cartel. He has pursued the NFL and pushed the league to address the treatment of players in the areas of concussions and licensing rights. He’s even brought heat on the National Federation of State High School Associations in an attempt to hold some entity accountable for the fact that prep football players are nearly twice as likely as college players to suffer a brain injury.
The detailed story explains how Hausfeld and O’Bannon came in contact. It was through Sonny Vaccaro.
The trial officially began on June 9.