What we learned from Day 2 of O'Bannon vs. NCAA trial


After several years of (and countless billable hours) the Ed O'Bannon v. NCAA trial has finally made its way to a courtroom in Oakland, Calif. The case has the potential to significantly change college athletics and could be among the more interesting sports law cases in some time.

Here's a summary of what happened on Day 1 to get you up to speed. Below are a few nuggets from Day 2.

Economist Roger Noll testimony continues

Much like the first day of the trial, the second day of action was dominated by the testimony of Stanford economist Dr. Roger Noll. The plaintiffs' expert witness, he specializes in antitrust matters and was on the stand for more than seven hours across both days. Considering the NCAA lawyers are not done with their cross examination and Noll charges a reported $800 per hour, it will be an expensive invoice for O'Bannon's lawyers.

Early on, Noll was primarily involved in answering questions about NCAA scholarship limits, such as those related to how much money athletes receive (or don't). He then went into details about proposed NCAA governance changes, particularly related to the Power 5 conferences becoming more autonomous. Among the things introduced as evidence were a recent letter from Pac-12 presidents and a proposal from two other presidents regarding autonomy.

The very dense questioning on NCAA minutia continued with a discussion about competitive equity among NCAA member schools. Noll, among other things, discussed a chart that laid out how few Division I/FBS schools win national titles and rank in the top 25, citing Florida and Florida State in particular.

Getting to the heart of his expertise, Noll also discussed several alternatives to current NCAA rules, including proposals that featured group licensing of players' images, a trust fund for deferred payments and more. He made it a point to talk about how if schools were forced to pay players in these scenarios, spending in other areas related to college athletics would go down.

Around lunch time, it was the NCAA's turn to question Noll. Their exchanges reportedly got a little testy as the association's lawyers asked quite a bit about the market for student-athlete names, likenesses and images. They presented several scenarios and hypotheticals, and Noll seemed to do his best in swatting them away.

Based on that exchange alone, it appears Noll has a bit of Chip Kelly in him based on how he handles things.

Among the paths the NCAA took on Tuesday was to remark that schools are paid by broadcasters for stadium access to games, not necessarily to put games on television. While that is certainly a bit on the absurd side, it led to quite a bit of back-and-forth on players' names, images and likenesses being used on television.

However, the NCAA lawyers ran out of time and Noll's testimony will stretch into Day 3 on Wednesday. Despite a good amount of ground covered on various issues related to broadcast rights in particular, the head NCAA lawyer said they still have two hours' worth of questions still to ask.

There's a reason why this trial could last three weeks. It was another long day in Oakland with plenty of ground covered in a number of different areas that the average fan might not be interested in but will end up laying the groundwork for O'Bannon and his team's legal argument that is at the heart of the case.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.

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