Mark Emmert will take the stand in the O'Bannon vs. NCAA anti-trust trial on Thursday.
The NCAA president has defended the model of the NCAA numerous times publicly over the last six months including a bizarre moment in April when he tried to bring age discrimination lawsuits into the discussion of the Northwestern union efforts.
Emmert's testimony could last a while as well. According to USA Today, there won't be the usual direct examination and cross-examination rules in effect for him.
The trial is centered around the NCAA's current setup and the impact it has on college athletes who are unable to profit off their likenesses. If the testimony from Monday's proceedings is any indication, Emmert will need to be extremely convincing on the NCAA's behalf.
"When you announce years ago that you hired people to take the appeals to the Supreme Court and you see the efforts they made at the Court of Appeals to stop the case, it doesn't appear to us that they're trying this case to win it at the District Court level," Hausfeld said. "They're trying to create it for a record they can take up to the Court of Appeals and possibly to the Supreme Court."
A key witness for the O'Bannon side on Monday was Ellen Staurowsky, a professor of sports management at Drexel University. Instead of going after Staurowsky's findings during its cross-examination period according to SI.com, the NCAA went after her credentials.
The jury would eat this stuff up. Except for one problem. There is no jury in O'Bannon v. NCAA. There is only Judge Claudia Wilken and the circuit court judges -- and possibly U.S. Supreme Court justices -- who will actually decide the case. And that's why, after the mouse roared, the NCAA's attorneys had to hang their heads. During another round of questions designed to batter her credentials, Staurowsky stopped Li and asked what any of this had to do with the case. Before Li could answer, Wilken chimed in to agree with Staurowsky. A jury might not have seen through the attempt to discredit the witness while leaving the facts unchallenged, but Wilken did.
Perhaps this was a major reason the plaintiffs elected to proceed with strictly a bench trial in May. With Wilken at the helm, the plaintiffs only have to worry about one party deciding the case. And that party is trained in disseminating facts from presentation. If the NCAA is having a hard time defending its own business model through the trial's first week, Emmert's testimony has the potential to be especially intriguing.
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