Today is the final day of testimony in the O’Bannon trial, and it’ll bring to close three weeks of what SI’s Stewart Mandel characterized as a “tone-deaf” defense by the NCAA.
While some of the NCAA’s missteps have been bemusing, others — like the omission of student-athletes or coaches from the NCAA’s strategy — could very well swing Judge Claudia Wilken’s decision in favor of the plaintiffs.
From Mandel’s column, which ends with quite the knockout punch:
Yet over three weeks of testimony, the NCAA’s 14 handpicked witnesses to date have mostly pontificated the type of elitist, ivory-tower rhetoric that routinely infuriates its critics. It has offered little convincing evidence that compensating athletes through group licensing fees would irreparably harm college athletics. And that’s coming from someone like me, who passionately enjoys college football and basketball. I can’t imagine the organization has fared better with U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, for whom the sports world is so spectacularly foreign that she had to ask one witness to spell out ESPY.
Give the whole column a read — it’s an excellent take on where the NCAA went wrong in this whole process. Maybe there was nothing the NCAA could do since the athlete compensation train has already left the station. But the NCAA didn’t even bring the right weapons to the fight.