Monday, May 25, 2009
The NCAA was issued a strong rebuke in its case with Andrew Oliver and will be in court this week to answer contempt of court charges for public communication that was allegedly contrary to a court order voiding NCAA Bylaw 126.96.36.199. As ultimatesportsinsider.com has discussed in previous posts, this case has landmark implications for the NCAA's members schools across all sports because as Judge Tygh Tone stated "contrary the [the NCAA's] rhetoric, the February entry did not presume to void an NCAA rule, it did void an NCAA rule."
I continue to believe that this case will be settled by the NCAA, but the problem with a settlement is that Oliver has played an entire season under a court order that voids the Bylaw. Further, even if the NCAA did settle, a settlement won't vacate a contempt ruling, should one occur on May 27, essentially reaffirming the Bylaw is indeed null and void. I don't see how the NCAA can put the genie back in the bottle regarding legal representation for athletes.
Indeed Andrew Oliver's lawyer Rick Johnson, an ethics attorney from Cleveland, Ohio, sounds exceedingly positive about the latest developments in the case.
"We are gratified that the court has reaffirmed its commitment to enforcing the rule of law and its previous court orders invalidating the NCAA's no-lawyer and restitution rules, the NCAA's memo of May 11th is clearly in violation of its declaratory judgment and permanent injunction in this case, and if the NCAA does not withdraw the same and notify its members, their student athletes, and the public, that these rules will no longer be enforced, we expect that the NCAA will be held in indirect civil and criminal contempt of court with sanctions appropriate to the NCAA's level of arrogance, misconduct, and size."
Johnson's suggestion that the NCAA needs to proactively inform its members that Bylaw 188.8.131.52. is unenforceable is particularly noteworthy. Should Judge Tone rule that such public steps are necessary at the contempt hearing on May 27th, a number of upcoming events could be thrown some wicked curve balls. The Major League Baseball Draft will be held on June 9th and 10th (with the NBA draft just 2 weeks later). In addition, one of the greatest events in all of sports, the College World Series, begins June 13 and continues for ten days. Will the top prospects from the eight teams in Omaha, Nebraska be attending with "legal representation" in tow? We should have a much more clear picture in about two days.