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Pat Haden: schools should prepare for an O’Bannon victory

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It’s no secret that the result of the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA could have far-reaching implications that dramatically change the way college athletics are operated.

While the NCAA and co-defendant EA Sports maintain their confidence that the O’Bannon plaintiffs will ultimately fall short of getting their desired results — they’re asking that current and former athletes receive 50 percent of the revenue generated by both the NCAA and conference television contracts — USC athletic director Pat Haden isn’t so sure.

Or, at the very least, he wants to prepare for the worst-case scenario.

“We ought to be kept abreast of it at all times, and we ought to prepare for it in case we lose,” Haden told Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated. “I haven’t followed the case closely, but what I read from legal scholars, it’s not a slam dunk for the NCAA.”

Haden continued:

“The context of the lawsuit has changed. What do we do if we lost?” Haden said. “All of a sudden your television revenue — let’s say it’s $20 million a year [for a school]. Now if they win, it’s $10 million a year. How do you make your 21 sports work on half the revenue?”

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany thinks de-emphasizing athletics in a way that resembles, say, a Division III model could be an answer. In reality, it’s not.

(On that subject, O’Bannon plaintiffs want new depositions from Delany and others.)

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports recently broke down what he thinks is fuzzy math from college athletic admins, posing the theoretical question “if Michigan doesn’t think it should pay for a field hockey team, then why does it think Denard Robinson should?”

But there would need to be adjustments made on the university’s behalf.‘s legal expert Michael McCann said coaching salaries could go down and some teams — perhaps men’s to continue to comply with Title IX — may be cut as a result of an O’Bannon victory.

How, then, do universities prepare for that now? That’s a difficult question to answer. From NCAA guru John Infante:

Keep in mind that if the O’Bannon plaintiffs win, it would be the co-defendants owing the damages; conferences would only have to pony up to athletes going forward. Still, even advocates of pay-for-play or additional stipends [/ahem] have to understand it would be the universities stuck with the challenge of trying to rearrange funds to make it all work.

The formula for how to pay players has been nearly impossible to create in a way that makes everyone happy, but if the O’Bannon plaintiffs defeat the NCAA, it likely won’t matter. Conferences and schools will have to adjust financially — let’s table hyperbolic ultimatums such as Delany’s DIII threat or breaking away from the NCAA for now — to compensate certain athletes.

And, like it or not, the amateur model as we know it today will be gone.

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11 Responses to “Pat Haden: schools should prepare for an O’Bannon victory”
  1. dirtydrew says: Apr 1, 2013 3:29 PM

    Time to pay up NCAA. Students who play sports tend not to come from money. Therefore, the scholarship is not enough when we see the size of the revenue . Pay the players, then we don’t have to see guys selling gear for money or tattoos. And if the friends and family sports suffer, welcome to the real world. No one watches girl hoops or field hockey.

  2. bigdinla says: Apr 1, 2013 4:22 PM

    Who cares of the kids come from money? The brand is bigger than the players. If this passes I am sending Harvey Updyke after OBannon! I also bet their are thousands of kids that will play for a free education. Please don’t act like this is for the kids. This is all about those that failed at life.

  3. Slim Charles says: Apr 1, 2013 4:25 PM

    Wow, 5 thumbs down on dirtydrew’s comment? A lot of people must have been fine with indentured servitude.

  4. mhalt99 says: Apr 1, 2013 4:49 PM

    so the same brain trust that literally indebted american students $1 trillion for what has become useless degrees has also made billions of dollars off of the blood, sweat and tears of “student athletes”

    goldman sachs should be recruiting from the college admin ranks as opposed to the student ranks.

  5. noring4youstill says: Apr 1, 2013 5:42 PM

    Well it’s only right. These bastards have been living high on the hog long enough off the backs of these college kids.

  6. guinsrule says: Apr 1, 2013 5:58 PM

    Too bad there’s no way to hold Delany to his DIII threat…

  7. sparty0n says: Apr 1, 2013 6:10 PM

    @mhalt99 No doubt that college tuition is much, much higher than it should be. But, no one is going to convince me that if sports didn’t exist, tution would be any less.

    If kids get paid to play sports, charge them for tuition then! THEY ARE GETTING PAID! “indentured servitude” is a dumb ass comment. Nothing MAKES them stay at a college and play ball. They are more than capable of leaving the team and getting a job at McDs.

    Plus make no mistake Title IX advocates will ensure that the backup cather on the girls softball team, get the same “pay” as the QB of the football team.

    If this were someone complaining about the cost of tuition, I would back them, but this lawsuit is a self-centered attempt by someone to draw attention to himself for the few years of relevance he had in life. Get over it and move on.

  8. dirtydrew says: Apr 2, 2013 1:25 AM

    The coaches salaries drive up the cost on all students. The idea that EA sports can make NCAA football game, use a current player on the cover, and he is not compensated is unbelievable. The bowl games students don’t attend, but the schools lose money(see acc championship). The Bowl commissioner making 250k a year to put on 1 football game. The NCAA just reached a 14 year, 10.8 BILLION DOLLAR deal with CBS for march madness. I also just saw a young man on national TV destroy his leg, and hinder his future mobility while not being paid. Where is the equity?

  9. manchestermiracle says: Apr 2, 2013 2:06 AM

    More and more worms crawling out of the rotten NCAA apple. How much longer before this house of greedy cards falls? Can’t say I’m not rooting for it.

  10. amosalanzostagg says: Apr 2, 2013 10:00 AM

    An O’Bannion victory means Title IX comes into play AND all sports will have to pay their athletes a stipend. Sure USC and the top tier schools will pay the stipend. You have 300 athletes, male and female, given $2,000 a year, that’s $600K per annum.

    Texas and Alabama will pay that.

    Marshall and other mid level schools could not afford it. Either sports go away or the entire premise of a college education for kids who will never play pro sports dies.

    Personally, I would move the dear old University football team to a club level with no affiliation with the school, have minimum education standards, one year contracts to pay the players, and have the players assume the risk when they are injured or do not obtain a degree. Then hear the squealing that would rival Ned Beatty out of Deliverance.

  11. tabais says: Apr 2, 2013 4:06 PM

    Sad thing is the NCAA could have gotten off pretty cheap if they agreed to O’bannon’s settlement offer earlier in this case.

    Instead the NCAA got greedy and now it looks like they will pay big time.

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