Thursday May 5th, 2016 4:59AM

NCAA president: Pay could destroy college sports

By Staff
OAKLAND -- NCAA President Mark Emmert stuck to his contention that amateurism is the core of college athletics, saying any effort to pay players would destroy a framework that has been in place for more than a century and cause many schools to either abandon sports or refuse to play other schools that do pay.<br /> <br /> Emmert said college athletes themselves wouldn't want to play against other athletes who were getting paid.<br /> <br /> "They want to know everyone is playing by the same rules," he said. "They want to know the other teams consist of student athletes just like them."<br /> <br /> Emmert took the witness stand Thursday in a landmark antitrust trial against the NCAA to say college sports would be fatally flawed if players were allowed to receive a portion of the billions of dollars in basketball and football television revenues now flowing into big conferences and colleges.<br /> <br /> Emmert said one of the biggest reasons fans like college sports is that they believe the athletes are really students who play for a love of the sport and for their school and community. He said fans understand college players aren't as good as professionals, but that doesn't stop some programs from being more popular than professional teams.<br /> <br /> "To convert college sports into professional sports would be tantamount to converting it into minor league sports," Emmert said. "And we know that in the U.S. minor league sports aren't very successful either for fan support or for the fan experience."<br /> <br /> Emmert's testimony came in a much-anticipated appearance as the NCAA tries to convince U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken that its system of so-called amateurism is not anti-competitive and is the best model for regulating college sports.<br /> <br /> Watching closely from the plaintiff's table was former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon, who along with 19 other former players is seeking an injunction that would allow players to band together and sell the rights to their names, images and likenesses (NILs) in broadcasts and video games. O'Bannon testified on the first day of the trial last week that he went to UCLA to play basketball and that he was a student grudgingly at best.<br /> <br /> The lawsuit and other efforts targeting the NCAA have already had some effect, with the biggest five conferences moving quickly toward giving athletes more money and benefits. Emmert said he supported those moves, but said giving athletes more than the true cost of attendance would cause a free-for-all in recruiting and force many schools to give up smaller sports.<br /> <br /> Many schools, he said, would simply leave Division I sports rather than pay their players.<br /> <br /> Under friendly questioning by an NCAA attorney, Emmert defended the concept of amateurism, which he said has been a core principle from the time the NCAA was founded in 1905 to today.<br /> <br /> "It's one of the most fundamental principles of the NCAA and intercollegiate athletics," Emmert said. "They have always seen and assumed that intercollegiate athletics is about the notion that these are members of the student body. They're not hired employees conducting games for entertainment. They're not a random group of folks that just come together to play sports."<br /> <br /> Emmert's appearance drew an overflow crowd to Wilken's courtroom as the NCAA sought to rebut earlier contentions by witnesses for the plaintiffs that the organization's rules on amateurism are anti-competitive and that almost everyone connected with college sports makes money except athletes.<br /> <br /> Emmert acknowledged under sometimes contentious cross examination that many people are professionals because they make money in college sports, but said that is no different than other amateur sports. The NCAA president - who himself makes $1.6 million a year - drew a distinction between coaches making millions of dollars a year, and athletes who receive only tuition and room and board for their services.<br /> <br /> "The pay to a professional coach is very different than the nature of the student-athlete's relationship to the university," Emmert said. "The coach has been a paid individual as long as there have been paid coaches and student-athletes are amateurs. The fact coaches are getting paid more doesn't change those relationships at all."<br /> <br /> O'Bannon and others are asking for a ruling that would give basketball and football players the right to seek a share of revenues from their sports for use of their names, images and likenesses (NILs) in broadcasts and videogames. A broad outline of a plan sketched by the plaintiffs would give players equal shares for each year they play, with the money paid only after an athlete leaves college.<br /> <br /> Emmert, a former university president who has headed the NCAA for nearly four years, said even deferred payments would be in direct violations of NCAA rules first crafted in 1905 that forbid giving money to players.<br /> <br /> "It's still the same," he said. "It's pay for playing, regardless of whether it's paid today or paid tomorrow."<br /> <br /> Emmert said if some schools paid their players for their NILs and others didn't it would create such an uneven playing field among schools there would likely be no national championships in football and basketball.<br /> <br /> "Direct payment as an inducement (to recruits) is obviously fundamentally different than to say you're going to be in this locker room or that stadium," he said. "Member schools would certainly find that an uncompetitive situation and wouldn't want to be a part of a championship that is driven by that."<br /> <br /> He acknowledged, though, that there is a lot of debate within the NCAA and its 1,100 member schools over how far universities can go in chasing money for athletic programs. Emmert said he himself ordered the cancellation of a NCAA videogame because there was a dispute over whether player NILs were being used in it. The NCAA settled a lawsuit over the use of NILs in the EA game for $20 million on the eve of the trial.
© Copyright 2016
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
2014 Top 10: Looking back at the top sports stories of the year
It was another year for the record books in 2014, mostly for the right reasons -- state championships, new challenges and new stars taking their turn to shine. But there were also plenty of big stories that reminded us that sports -- like life -- isn
11:55PM ( 1 year ago )
NASCAR K&N Pro Series schedules set for 2015
DAYTONA BEACH, FL - NASCAR announced recently the 2015 schedules for its top developmental regional touring series, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West.
2:00PM ( 1 year ago )
Lanierland boys final: Johnson makes history with win over Red Elephants <b> (VIDEO) </b>
Ever the aggressor on the court, Johnson
8:55AM ( 1 year ago )
Jackets, Mississippi St. clash in Orange Bowl
No. 10 Georgia Tech has the nation's second-ranked rushing offense. No. 8 Mississippi State has held seven of its 12 opponents under 125 yards on the ground.
5:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Ole Miss defense braces for TCU offense in Peach Bowl
Mississippi and TCU were part of the playoffs story in 2014. Each team was part of the chase. Each team fell short of the coveted semifinals.
5:01PM ( 1 year ago )
Kiffin shining again after season of redemption
Lane Kiffin was modest in his goals and complimentary about the team he'll be facing in the Sugar Bowl. He went on and on about how much he's learned from Nick Saban, while insisting it's no big deal when his boss yells at him. Very un-Kiffin-like, you might say.
11:02PM ( 1 year ago )
College Sports
Baseball playoffs: GHS, Buford, Union sweep; several Game 3s on tap
Buford, Gainesville and Union County are marching on to the state quarterfinals, while North Hall, Dawson County and Jackson County have one more chance to book their spot in the "Elite Eight" after intriguing second round series play on Wednesday.
11:56AM ( 6 hours from now )
Soccer playoffs: 5 more teams storm into quarterfinals; 10 total in 'Elite 8'
The North Hall girls magical postseason run continued, while four other area teams dominated to march on through the second round of the state soccer playoffs on Wednesday.
11:17AM ( 6 hours from now )
(VIDEO) Baseball: Gainesville sweeps into quarterfinals
Good teams find a way especially when not at their best...
9:51AM ( 4 hours from now )
Baseball: North Hall splits with No. 1 Locust Grove
North Hall earned a split with No. 1 Locust Grove Wednesday in the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs.North Hall earned a split with No. 1 Locust Grove Wednesday in the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs.
By AccessWDUN Staff
9:17AM ( 4 hours from now )
Girls soccer: North Hall outfights Eagles Landing for 1-0 playoff win
The North Hall girls soccer team expected Eagles Landing's best shot on Wednesday...
9:04AM ( 4 hours from now )