Life lessons: If you hear this phrase, you know you are listening to a coach or an athletic director or a college sports official. They cannot help themselves. When they start talking about the college athlete's experience, they turn a little misty and talk about the life lessons that are part of the players' experiences. More than a dozen times in the trial, athletic officials have told Wilken that college sports offer invaluable life lessons. The executive deputy commissioner of the SEC, Greg Sankey, on Tuesday told Wilken a story about his baseball coach and a life lesson learned when Sankey was not in the lineup. Sankey nearly broke down in tears. Wilken has not indicated any real interest the life lessons of a college athletics program.
Myth: One of the prevailing myths of college sports is that revenue from football and men's basketball pay for other sports and for academic facilities. Economist Roger Noll, after 40 years of study of the sports industry, testified that "basketball and football money is spent on basketball and football." He noted that money for women's sports increased faster in schools that do not play big-time sports. Commissioner Britton Banowsky of Conference USA, who reports to 16 college presidents, said he "wished college presidents would show some discipline and spend the money on academics instead of coaches and athletic facilities."
Pilson, Neal: This guy was the NCAA's first witness and its best witness. Using his 40 years of experience making television deals, Pilson was charming and persuasive as he told Wilken that college athletes had no rights to sell to television networks that were broadcasting their games. The NCAA's best hope of any victory is based on Pilson's testimony. If he is right (and he might be), then the O'Bannon group would collect nothing for television broadcasts and rebroadcasts.
The group would be left with its claim for commercial use of its names, images and likenesses, an outcome the NCAA could accept. The NCAA lawyers are more worried about the television claim than they are about names, images and licenses claim. That loss would be a cost that the NCAA could absorb without major difficulty.
The players' answer to Pilson came from Edwin Desser, another television dealmaker with decades of experience. Desser, whose work was in professional sports with unions representing players, did not seem to have a real grip on how televising non-union, collegiate athletes who may end up with a licensing deal could work.
Provocateur: One of the most powerful pieces of evidence for the players was an email Wally Renfro, a former NCAA executive, sent to Mark Emmert as Emmert became president of the organization. In the email, Renfro said, "The notion that athletes are students is the great hypocrisy of intercollegiate sports." The "great hypocrisy" statement is a serious problem for the NCAA. In a lame attempt to try to reduce its impact, Emmert testified that Renfro was a provocateur, someone who simply liked to raise a little hell on the organization's meetings and did not speak for the organization.
For a generation of journalists who have reported on the NCAA and listened to Renfro, it was a tough sell. In his day, Renfro was one of the better spokespersons for the NCAA.