When Pomerantz has concluded his examination of Emmert, the NCAA leader will face cross-examination from players' lawyer Bill Isaacson, who already has distinguished himself in the trial as a formidable advocate. A member of the firm of Boies, Schiller and Flexner, a litigation powerhouse, Isaacson recently won a $162 million judgment in an antitrust case against a group of Chinese companies selling their products in the U.S.
In a 2012 deposition for a different case, Emmert sparred with lead O'Bannon attorney Michael Hausfeld, whose questions prompted 65 objections from the NCAA legal team.
Hausfeld said of Emmert's likely testimony on Thursday: "I expect you'll hear the company story, how whatever it is he defines as amateurism -- which in the past he has confessed that he cannot define -- is some principled notion that must be sacredly protected."
Isaacson will confront Emmert with a host of documents that will shed doubt on the NCAA's definition of amateurism and the isolation and "islandization" of football and basketball players.
Isaacson would ordinarily be limited to the subjects raised by Pomerantz in his questions to Emmert, but Wilken ruled earlier that Isaacson would be permitted to ask Emmert about anything and everything. The ruling came as the two sides battled over Emmert's testimony.
As a result, Isaacson will be able to ask Emmert about his reform efforts and will be able to show that there is nothing absolute about "amateurism" or about the principles governing "student-athletes." He will be able to show, for example, that while the NCAA lawyers were stonewalling the players' attempts to liberalize the rules, Emmert and his committees and task forces were thinking about many of the things the lawyers said were impossible.
As the leader of the organization that is under fire in the trial, Emmert is an important figure. But his testimony will not be critical to Wilken's ultimate decision.
Roger Noll, a retired Stanford economist, established a solid base for the players on all of the requirements of an antitrust case in 2½ days of testimony last week. Neal Pilson, the former president of CBS Sports, established for the NCAA the serious doubt about players' rights to television revenue. And Daniel Rubinfeld, a professor of law and economics who has published a textbook on the issues in the case, will offer testimony for the NCAA next week that responds to Noll.
Emmert's appearance will fill the courtroom with media and onlookers, but when Wilken makes her decision, she will look to the testimony of Noll, Pilson and Rubinfeld.