The court recorder at the Ed O’Bannon vs. the NCAA trial is probably still re-reading the notes to make sure this was real. An NCAA attorney made a comparison between Tonya Harding and Johnny Manziel.
How — at a trial about the pros and cons of paying student-athletes — did a lawyer manage to suggest that plotting to disable an opposing figure skater is similar to college players accepting cash or benefits that violate NCAA rules?
Here’s how that TruTV-like example was reached, via a report from CBSSports.com.
The O’Bannon plaintiffs tried to discredit the NCAA’s procompetitive justifications for not paying players. The NCAA tried to show the plaintiffs’ idea is for a professional model that would be unpopular to consumers.
“You’re actually hearing things like comparing Johnny Manziel and Tonya Harding,” O’Bannon attorney Bill Isaacson said afterward. “That’s now the level of defense. It’s the same thing as saying that this sport is going to be less competitive or less popular when you have to stand up and compare Johnny Manziel and Tonya Harding.”
The NCAA is seriously reaching here.
So Johnny Manziel (or any other college player) being allowed to play despite NCAA allegations for improper benefits or monies received doesn’t hurt ratings is on the same level as the Harding-Kerrigan debacle that drew huge ratings during the Olympic Games.
And a rose by any other name is still a duck to the NCAA, I suppose.
If that’s the level of defense the NCAA is throwing out there, this may be a slam-dunk win for the plaintiffs.