Ed O'Bannon testimony: 'I was there to play basketball'
The biggest trial in college sports history kicked off with testimony from the former UCLA basketball player whose name has become shorthand for the case.
The Ed O'Bannon trial -- you know, the one that could ultimately reshape the face of college athletics as we know it -- began Monday with testimony from none other than Ed O'Bannon himself, the former UCLA basketball star who began the case by seeking compensation for his (alleged) appearance in an NCAA-licensed videogame.
His lawsuit would eventually expand to seek licensing rights and damages for all college athletes, meaning O'Bannon's testimony Monday would center on whether he attended UCLA as a basketball player who deserved fair compensation for his exploits on the court, or a student whose hoops value was incidental to the benefits he received as a student.
Via CBSSports.com's Jon Solomon, O'Bannon made where he stood crystal-clear:
O'Bannon: "I was there to play basketball. School work wasn't much of a priority for me."— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) June 9, 2014
O'Bannon said he spent 40-45 hours per week on basketball activities while at UCLA.— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) June 9, 2014
O'Bannon says he spent maybe 12 hours per week on academics at UCLA.— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) June 9, 2014
O'Bannon: "There were easy classes that fit my basketball schedule to make it to basketball practice. My priority was playing ball."— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) June 9, 2014
O'Bannon: Academic adviser told him to find a major that "coincided with my basketball schedule."— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) June 9, 2014
The NCAA's cross-examination unsurprisingly focused on the benefits O'Bannon received due to his scholarship:
O'Bannon agrees a person who works 40 hours a week on theater or music is a "regular student."— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) June 9, 2014
O'Bannon says free education from UCLA is still very valuable to him today.— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) June 9, 2014
On the topic of O'Bannon's failure to graduate until 2011:
O'Bannon agrees with NCAA he had opportunity to spend more than 12 hours a week on studying but chose not to take advantage of that time.— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) June 9, 2014
The NCAA's attorneys also asked O'Bannon if he felt other televised amateur athletes should be compensated:
O'Bannon says Little League players should "absolutely" be paid for being on TV "if they're generating revenue."— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) June 9, 2014
Should HS athletes be paid if games on TV? O'Bannon: (Long pause) "If they are generating revenue for their school," they should be paid.— Jon Solomon (@JonSolomonCBS) June 9, 2014
The NCAA also showed that some past inconsistency in O'Bannon's statements on whether college athletes should be paid, and both sides presented arguments concerning O'Bannon's alleged video game avatar.
Obviously, there was plenty to wade through in O'Bannon's testimony -- and that was one witness in one side's argument the first morning of a potentially three weeks-long trial years in the making. Buckle in.
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