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These were eminent reformers—among them the president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, two former heads of the U. Olympic Committee, and several university presidents and chancellors.
The Knight Foundation, a nonprofit that takes an interest in college athletics as part of its concern with civic life, had tasked them with saving college sports from runaway commercialism as embodied by the likes of Vaccaro, who, since signing his pioneering shoe contract with Michael Jordan in 1984, had built sponsorship empires successively at Nike, Adidas, and Reebok.
Prosecutors and the courts, with the support of the public, should use antitrust laws to break up the collegiate cartel—not just in athletics but possibly in other aspects of collegiate life as well. He put the spiny book away and previewed what lies ahead. “We know our clients are foreclosed: neither the NCAA nor its members will permit them to participate in any of that licensing revenue.
The court soon would qualify his clients as a class. ” The work will be hard, but Hausfeld said he will win in the courts, unless the NCAA folds first. Under the law, it’s up to them [the defendants] to give a pro-competitive justification. End of story.” Ithird Knight Commission, complementing a previous commission’s recommendation for published reports on academic progress, called for the finances of college sports to be made transparent and public—television contracts, conference budgets, shoe deals, coaches’ salaries, stadium bonds, everything.
Still other lawyers could revive Rick Johnson’s case against NCAA bylaws on a larger scale, and King thinks claims for the rights of college players may be viable also under laws pertaining to contracts, employment, and civil rights. “The public will see for the first time how all the money is distributed.” Vaccaro has been traveling the after-dinner circuit, proselytizing against what he sees as the NCAA’s exploitation of young athletes.
Vaccaro had sought a law firm for O’Bannon with pockets deep enough to withstand an expensive war of attrition, fearing that NCAA officials would fight discovery to the end. Late in 2008, someone who heard his stump speech at Howard University mentioned it to Michael Hausfeld, a prominent antitrust and human-rights lawyer, whose firm had won suits against Exxon for Native Alaskans and against Union Bank of Switzerland for Holocaust victims’ families.
Sonny Vaccaro told a closed hearing at the Willard Hotel in Washington, D. “We want to put our materials on the bodies of your athletes, and the best way to do that is buy your school.
Or buy your coach.” Vaccaro’s audience, the members of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, bristled.
This is sound advice as far as it goes, but it’s a bromide that pinches off discussion.Someone tracked down Vaccaro on vacation in Athens, Greece, and he flew back directly to meet Hausfeld.