Who knew Ed O'Bannon would be the origin of so many stories this year?
This spring brought stories about O'Bannon's post-basketball career, which center around his job as the assistant promotions manager for a Las Vegas car dealership. Pretty interesting stuff, but nothing out of the ordinary.
O'Bannon is the lead plantiff in a lawsuit against the NCAA over its use of former student athletes' images in DVDs, video games, photographs, apparel and other material. It's a familiar refrain, the NCAA profiting handsomely off of its major sports and those athletes, but it's always been able to win any lawsuits.
Now, that may change, mostly thanks to O'Bannon. And that may be the best thing O'Bannon's ever done – and yes, he's a former MOP of the Final Four.
This fabulous story from Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel covers most of the basis in the lawsuit, what prompted O'Bannon to file it and what could possibly result from it.
There's also plenty of historical context (such as the Four Horsemen and Texas Western) and the parties involved. But the crux of everything comes down to this:
At stake is a share of the estimated $4-billion market for collegiate licensed merchandise, a business that has exploded over the past 15 years.
If the NCAA were to lose the case it would be forced to pay a substantial penalty. It'd also either have a growing revenue stream dry up or in a groundbreaking switch be forced to share it with former players [the way professional leagues do]. Who the heck negotiates that on behalf of "former players" is a question unto itself. Either way, this isn't what schools, already dealing with sagging revenue due to the economy, needed.
Whether you agree with O'Bannon that former student athletes are being cheated out of money or think they shouldn't complain because they received scholarships and boosted their chances at a professional career is beside the point.
Everything could change in college sports as we know it. The NCAA's revenue stream may take a hit. Future marketing deals could change. More lawsuits are likely, even if O'Bannon's doesn't win because more people will want to test any limits. We'll find out the how much power the NCAA actually holds and how much its member schools depend on its leadership.
Slow time? Who knew all of that might change?