NCAA could lose Ed O'Bannon lawsuit, says USC athletic director

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

Pat Haden fears there's a serious chance the NCAA could be forced to pay players a portion of their athletic revenue as a result of Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit.

USC athletic director Pat Haden thinks the NCAA could lose a lawsuit calling for pay-for-play for college sports -- and that institutions such as his should really start planning for the financial consequences of paying student-athletes.

Haden spoke to Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated, and made it clear he didn't feel most institutions were taking the lawsuit filed by former UCLA star Ed O'Bannon as seriously as they should:

"We ought to be kept abreast of it at all times, and we ought to prepare for it in case we lose," said Haden, a former practicing attorney and businessman who became an athletic director in 2010. "I haven't followed the case closely, but what I read from legal scholars, it's not a slam dunk for the NCAA."

Haden believes there's a serious chance the NCAA loses the lawsuit, which began over using players' likenesses in video games and has expanded to cover the entire concept of whether athletes should make some of the money their schools earn off their sports. He thinks that schools should prepare for how they'd deal with the dilemma of trying to do the same things with less money:

"The context of the lawsuit has changed. What do we do if we lost?" Haden said of the NCAA's side. "All of a sudden your television revenue -- let's say it's $20 million a year [for a school]. Now if they win, it's $10 million a year. How do you make your 21 sports work on half the revenue?"

It's a good question. Although many agree college athletes should be paid for their services, it could come at the expense of non-revenue sports.

A tip for Haden? Maybe fewer $70 million practice facilities.

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