With the entire college sports world focused on Thursday's first round of the NFL Draft, the NCAA found the most opportune time to release an update on the Ed O'Bannon player likeness case. The parties to the case are preparing for a class certification hearing on June 20 that could make or break the case, a case that could eventually cost the NCAA billions of dollars.
As the case has brought the NCAA under increasing public scrutiny, including a recent satirical beatdown on The Daily Show, of course its statement comes in the middle of the night. Take it away, NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy:
"The plaintiffs in the likeness lawsuit today filed their reply brief supporting their motion for class certification. While the NCAA is still reviewing this filing, it appears to be more of the same - baseless theories supported only by inaccurate speculation aimed at destroying amateurism in college athletics.
"Plaintiffs have failed to put forth any actual facts in support of their claims. This failure is especially glaring given the Supreme Court's recent decision affirming that a plaintiff must do more than merely speculate at the class certification stage of litigation.
"Instead, the plaintiffs take out of context quotes and statements from representatives of member conferences and institutions, and even NCAA officials, and attempt to weave them together to support their faulty theory.
"The plaintiffs even concede the NCAA is correct on most points, but ask the court to ignore the dramatic differences among student-athletes and across sports, across colleges and universities, across conferences, across state laws, and across available financial resources and to create an entirely new model and order the implementation of unions for select college student-athletes.
"The fact remains -- the NCAA is not exploiting current or former student-athletes but instead provides enormous benefit to them and the public. Plaintiffs are wrong on the facts and wrong on the law. The NCAA remains hopeful the court will agree and deny this motion."
If the judge certifies the class action claim, O'Bannon and his attorneys can bring their claim on behalf of past and present players without their direct involvement. If Remy and the NCAA are successful, each former and current player would have to bring his or her own claim, making it significantly more difficult for the plaintiffs to get an earth-shaking verdict against the organization. Previous attempts to certify a class for lawsuits involving players, cases primarily for restraint of trade, were unsuccessful.