Posted: Tue April 2, 2013 11:19AM; Updated: Tue April 2, 2013 12:17PM
Andy Staples
Ed O’Bannon v. the NCAA: A complete case primer

Pat Haden was the first to say it publicly. That doesn’t mean he was the only one thinking it.

When the USC athletic director told’s Stewart Mandel that his fellow ADs and other school leaders need to think long and hard about the potential repercussions of an NCAA loss in the antitrust lawsuit originally filed by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, Haden echoed the thoughts of dozens of his colleagues. Many ADs have said the same thing for the past few months, always followed by “Don’t quote me on that.” Some of the most powerful people in college sports are frustrated with the NCAA’s unwillingness to update them on the progress of the case, and they fear they might have to pick up the pieces if the NCAA can’t uphold the status quo in court.

If this sounds like a huge deal, that’s because it is. Few cases against the NCAA get this far, and the millions of dollars invested by the plaintiffs’ attorneys — many of whom see the NCAA and college conferences as a poor man’s Big Tobacco — ensure this will be a bloody fight. Unfortunately, we in the media have done as poor a job explaining the importance of this case to the public as the NCAA has done updating its member institutions on its defense. NCAA president Mark Emmert will likely get quite a few questions about the case when he addresses the media this week in Atlanta ahead of the Final Four, but, like most CEOs of companies getting sued for a gazillion dollars, he’ll probably decline comment or stick to only the most general terms. In this primer, we’ll dig much deeper into the case.

What’s at stake?

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