Ed O'Bannon ruling is not the real game-changer for the NCAA

Ed O'Bannon ruling is not the real game-changer for the NCAA
Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive says colleges are "going through a historic evolution" in the wake of a judge's decision in the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit. (Butch Dill / Associated Press)

Southeastern Conference Commissioner Mike Slive released a statement Monday confirming college athletics are "going through a historic evolution."

Slive wasn't talking about horrific changes wrought by Oregon's uniforms.


These were Slive's first public comments since former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon won his licensing lawsuit Friday against the NCAA.

This was only round one, as the NCAA has announced it will appeal the decision by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken.


Slive said "the ultimate consequences" won't be known until the legal issues are resolved.

Having a weekend to digest the case and its aftermath, I tend to think the picture is a tad clearer.

The O'Bannon case wasn't, as it turned out, a crushing blow to the NCAA.

In fact, one legal analyst following the case closely said he wouldn't be surprised if O'Bannon appealed his VICTORY.


I think the judge's decision was a fairly reasonable assessment of the uncomfortable relationship between capitalism and the socialist-minded NCAA.

The judge said players should be paid for use of their names, images and likeness while in college, yet fell short of turning college sports into the free-market Ayn Rand Institute.

The judge basically said if schools are going to profit from player images, it should set aside some money for those students after they cease being amateurs.

Yet a cap was set at $5,000 per student, per year. Seems reasonable to me, and I don't see how it dramatically alters the landscape.

The NCAA is appealing out of principle, just to stall the clock, but even an eventual loss in the Supreme Court won't be fatal on this issue.

It won't approach the ramifications still stemming from the 1984 Supreme Court ruling that said the NCAA is a monopoly, which led to the deregulation of football broadcasting rights.

Before that ruling schools were limited to six television appearances every two years. Can you believe that?

That was the game and money changer, the one that started TV money flowing to the major conferences.


That decision led to conferences becoming fiefdoms and the creation of leaders like Mike Slive, more powerful as SEC commissioner than he ever would be as NCAA president.

The "consequences" of change, in fact, will be felt more by Thursday's NCAA decision to grant the Power 5 conferences more autonomy in how they spend their revenue.

It was interesting the judge in the O'Bannon case ruled colleges could offer athletes "full cost of attendance" one day after the NCAA voted to do the same thing.

Again, thank you, Supreme Court of 1984.

Rich leagues pulling away from poor leagues will have more immediate influence on college sports than Ed O'Bannon.

Unless, of course, O'Bannon can somehow get his "victory" overturned and bring a new case that might really break the NCAA's back (and bank).

Twitter: @DufresneLATimes