Following Jim Delany‘s, um, “bold” promise in March to de-emphasize athletics if players ever received a pay-for-play, O’Bannon plaintiffs asked to depose the Big Ten commissioner as part of its ongoing lawsuit against the NCAA and co-defendants.
The USA Today reported yesterday that Judge Nathanael Cousins ruled to allow depositions of Delany, Horizon League commissioner Jon LeCrone, Fresno State president John Welty and NCAA executive vice president Mark Lewis. However, O’Bannon plaintiffs may not depose Texas Athletics Director DeLoss Dodds or Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, among others. Dodds and Bowlsby were among the other college athletics power brokers who, along with Delany, filed declarations supporting the NCAA in the O’Bannon case.
“We’re encouraged by the courts’ ruling granting us the right to depose several of the key declarants in terms of their credibility and veracity,” said Michael Hausfeld, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs.
Conversely, the NCAA declared its own form of victory with a statement on the upcoming depositions, which will be two hours long each.
“We are pleased with the court’s ruling and the admissions the plaintiffs’ lawyers made (Wednesday) highlighting the weaknesses in their theories,” the NCAA’s statement read. “We look forward to the additional discovery shining a light on the reasons why this case is not a proper class action.”
The O’Bannon case is currently headed toward a June 20 hearing for class certification. If the case moves forward as a class-action, current athletes could be entitled to compensation on top of any damages owed to the plaintiffs, which are made up of former athletes suing the NCAA for its use of their name and likeness.