NCAA President: O'Bannon Ruling Could 'Fundamentally Shift Intercollegiate Athletics'

NCAA president Mark Emmert and NCAA board member Dr. Harris Pastides on the groundbreaking case.
9:12 | 08/10/14

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Transcript for NCAA President: O'Bannon Ruling Could 'Fundamentally Shift Intercollegiate Athletics'
Now, our "Closer look" at an earthquake in the billion-dollar world of college sports. A federal judge ruling in some instances student athletes should get paid. The president of the ncaa is standing by live to offer his exclusive first response to the ruling, after this from ESPN's Tom Farrey. Reporter: It's a sweeping ruling that could forever change college sports. Opening the door for student athletes to earn money. They should, quote, receive a limited share of the revenue generated from the use of their own names, images and likenesses. At the center of the case, former ucla basketball star ed o'bannon. Mvp of the Bruins' 1995 ncaa championship team. When he saw his image used in his video game five years ago, he decided to sue the NBA. I realized that I hadn't been compensated or even told that I was going to be on this video game. I just thought that that was wrong. Reporter: It's an argument that ncaa critics have made for years, that college athletes should share in the billions of profits from college sports. The impact of the ruling beginning in 2016, players can receive annual payments covering full college costs and universities can set up trust funds capped at $5,000 a year per player. Look, it's a start. It's something. At this point, anything is better than what the players, the athletes were getting. Reporter: Why is this case, this claim meant so much to you? This has never been about me, this has always been about the rights of the athletes past, present and future. Reporter: And that huge decision comes just one day after another major change in college sports. The ncaa's board voting to allow its five largest and wealthiest conferences to essentially play by their own rules and expand benefits to athletes, including more money to cover college costs and greater health benefits. I think the story line on this is that student athletes win. We all know it costs more than room, board, books, tuition and fees to go to college. Reporter: But many believe that the decision was simply an attempt to keep these large revenue-generating conferences from walking away. I think this was a reactionary move by the ncaa. I think they were very concerned that the power 5 conferences could split off on their own because they would definitely survive without the ncaa's help. Reporter: For the average fan, it's unclear whether this week's action will change the action on the field. Most people already believe that there's a chasm between now power conference schools and the power 5, it's only going to get more competitive now. It's a very slippery slope. Reporter: For "This week," Tom Farrey, ESPN, Henderson, Nevada. Our thanks to Tom. Joining us now in his first interview since that big court decision, Dr. Mark Emmert, president of the ncaa, along with the president of university of the South Carolina and a member of the ncaa board of directors. First on the Obannon ruling, the definition of amateurism boils down to you're not paid, does this turn college sports into pro sports? It could potentially good. It's consistent with arguments that we have been making all along, and some things that we fundamentally disagree with, most notably, we disagree that there's a violation of antitrust laws going on here. We'll probably continue to argue that in the coming months and beyond. But, it has the potential to fundamentally shift intercollegiate athletics in ways that many people are concerned about. So, will you appeal the decision? Yes, at least in part, we will. Again, no one in our legal team or in the college conferences' legal teams believe that the current rules are violations of antitrust laws and we need to get that settled in the courts. During the trial, ed o'bannon said I was an athlete masquerading as a student. I was there strictly to play basketball. I did the minimum to keep my academically minimal to keep my scholarship. It's a decision that he made when he was a student. He had every opportunity to do as much as he wanted to in school as he desire. He got a degree from the university and many, many thousands of student athletes take full advantage of the opportunity to be both a student and an athlete while they're in college. More graduate than the students who aren't student athletes. So, I believe strongly and the evidence demonstrates that they are students. The judge set a potential cap on payments to athletes at $5,000. Should they be paid more than a few thousand dollars? Well, Martha, I think the reform that we passed last Thursday allows us to do this. I think that's the right context for doing that. Sure, we need to share more of the resources with students, my own coach has said that. We need to provide them the full cost of attendance. Better health and safety benefits. Better professional counselling. I think a lot of people looking at this ruling and celebrating on behalf of the student athlete don't realize that what we did last week in Indianapolis is really the right path for allowing us to do that. I want to turn to the major decision by the ncaa board of directors this week, it gives more freedom on rules to the five biggest conferences. Isn't there a bit of a contradiction here? You oppose pay for players but you're now allowing these big conferences to give these players more benefits. Well, what the members did last week was allow the five highest-resourced conferences to make decisions about a handful of cases around student well-being. Mostly the things that he was just mentioning. It also allows other schools to do the same thing and so, this is a topic that's been under debate and discussion for more than three years about how to reach full cost of attendance. There's very little doubt and debate about the need to do that and I and he and many others have been advocating for years. I think this move will allow us to get there -- you have to recognize that the association is a very democratic process. It's not as if any one person can change the rules. This new move will allow those decisions to happen more effectively. Let's talk about the impact on the game. What does this do to the competitive balance? Is it really as was mentioned in Tom Farrey's piece the haves and have-nots now? Well, Martha, there's always been great diversity in division I. More teams and more conferences are successful year after year. As mark said, all of the reform, all of the universities are eligible to attain that reform. We really need -- But it doesn't start an arms race? Well, there's already an arms race. Make it worse? I don't know. We'll have to wait and see. But the arms race today is around facilities and support staff, it's not been focused on providing student athletes with things that they need. And so the changes that are being proposed by the 65 schools in those big 5 conferences are aimed entirely at supporting student athletes. The unfortunate thing about this whole debate it has been cast in many cases as the member universities and the ncaa trying to withhold support for student athletes and that's not the case at all. There is a huge debate about whether or not this is an antitrust violation with the way the rules are imposed. But look, all student athletes have to be treated the same and yes, the ncaa as an association can impose a cap. I can't be below these thresholds. There's recognition in her ruling that much of what we do today makes good sense. No matter what, very big changes this week. Probably some very big changes coming. Thanks very much to both of you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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