The biggest trial in the history of college athletics is set to come to a close tomorrow, but WSU made a little cameo in the proceedings of O'Bannon vs. the NCAA today when an NCAA witness used Washington State and Gonzaga to try and illustrate a point.
Without getting too deep into the nitty gritty of the trial, which you can read all about here if you've not been keeping up, former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon is suing for the right of college athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness. What exactly that looks like is to be determined (presuming O'Bannon wins, and all signs point that direction), but one obvious model includes universities directly compensating players.
The NCAA, of course, would like you to believe that would significantly shift competitive balance.
Very interesting moment. NCAA tries to argue that Gonzaga hoops would suffer relative to Wazzu b/c less $$ to spend on players (con't) ..— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) June 26, 2014
The judge, though, wasn't having any of it.
Wilken interjects: "Well, (Gonzaga & WSU) would still have the same amount of money they have now. They'd just distribute it differently."— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) June 26, 2014
I can see the NCAA's point to some degree; if colleges are allowed to give money to players, major conference schools theoretically have more money to redistribute to the players than small conference schools do. Greater direct compensation could make WSU more attractive than Gonzaga in spite of facilities challenges.
However, I can't help but laugh at the NCAA using WSU and Gonzaga as its examples, given that if it came down to paying players, I remain unconvinced that Gonzaga would actually have less money to spend on labor when you look at the relative investments in the two programs by their schools.
But even if the NCAA is correct, I think Kyle Sherwood speaks for all of us.
GOOD MT "@slmandel: Very interesting moment. NCAA tries to argue that Gonzaga hoops would suffer relative to Wazzu"— Kyle Sherwood (@BigWoodWSU) June 26, 2014