Arizona leads player revolt against NCAA

July, 19, 2013
7/19/13
12:00
PM ET

Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer is among six current FBS players who have joined a federal anti-trust lawsuit against the NCAA, a court action originally filed in 2009 by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon that could change the financial landscape of college football.

Wildcats kicker Jake Smith also joined the lawsuit, and the good news is Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez and athletic director Greg Byrne are supporting their right to take part in the process.

"Jake and Jake came to my house the other day and talked to me about the case and their involvement," Rodriguez told ESPN's "Outside the Lines." "They're two conscientious guys, and they're both really appreciative of playing college ball. It's not like they're disenchanted with the system. They love being student-athletes. But with the likeness issue, they wanted to see if they could have a voice for college athletes, and I said I support that.

"I know there's concerns [in the NCAA] about where this lawsuit will lead. And we need to keep it as amateur status. We already have a pro league, it's the NFL. Let's not make college a minor league. I just think we can do a few things, get a couple thousand more [dollars a year] to help out the players."

Said Fischer: "I'm not surprised at all. [Rodriguez] has his players' back, and that's why we love playing for him."

The other players joining the lawsuit are Vanderbilt linebacker Chase Garnham, Clemson cornerback Darius Robinson, and Minnesota tight end Moses Alipate and wide receiver Victor Keise.

Why take a stand?

"For me, it's about the money and the fact that the revenue that's generated is so vast, and the players are essentially the people that drive the engine that is the NCAA," Smith said. "If we didn't exist, there would be no University of Arizona football team. There would be no Alabama Crimson Tide football team. There would be no Florida Gator football team. There would be no Texas A&M football team. Yes, we are a part of the program. I love Arizona and I love my coach, our athletic directors, everybody that's a part of this program are great.

"However, without us, there is no they, if that makes sense."

Obviously, this is a prickly situation. These players are suing the entity that oversees their sport. And Rodriguez and Byrne benefit substantially -- just as all coaches and athletic directors do -- from the current system.

Byrne, of course, has to tread lightly.

"We are aware that Jake Smith and Jake Fischer are now plaintiffs in the lawsuit," Byrne said in a statement. "While we do not support the lawsuit, we support their right to be involved and express their opinion. They are two fine young men and we are glad they are part of our program and University."

The Pac-12 is certainly out front of this potentially momentous legal action, seeing that O'Bannon is a former UCLA basketball player.

From the story:
The O'Bannon complaint alleges the NCAA, EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Co., the nation's leading trademark and licensing firm, violated antitrust laws.

It accuses the NCAA of fixing at zero the amount that players can receive from video games and other products that use players' names, likenesses and images. Last year, the plaintiffs amended their lawsuit, asking that current players be included and arguing that players deserve a share of the billions of dollars in television revenues that flow to the NCAA, conferences and member schools.

Suffice it to say, the plot with this lawsuit is thickening.

Ted Miller | email

College Football

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