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Alden unsure what O'Bannon ruling means for Missouri athletics

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 | 5:43 p.m. CDT; updated 6:51 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 4, 2014

COLUMBIA — Missouri athletics director Mike Alden doesn't know where to begin when it comes to talking about the O'Bannon ruling.

"How much time do you have?" Alden asked, with a grin on his face.

In August, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled in favor of Ed O'Bannon, a former UCLA basketball player who sued the NCAA on behalf of college football and men's basketball athletes for the organization's use of student-athletes' names, images and likenesses for commercial use. During a media discussion Wednesday morning, Alden expressed uncertainty about the lawsuit's consequences.

The O'Bannon ruling is a complex one, and athletics programs across the nation, including Missouri's, are still scratching their heads at what the decision means.

The decision is about removing the limitations on the money student-athletes could receive for their names, images and likenesses, such as on broadcasts, re-broadcasts of games, video games and the like.

Jon Solomon, a college football writer for CBSSports.com, said the NCAA can put a cap on the amount athletes can receive as long as it is no less than $5,000 per year. The organization cannot stop schools from putting money into a trust fund until an athlete's eligibility ends or until he graduates, and it will not affect any recruits enrolled in college before July 1, 2016.

But Alden said there are "innumerable challenges" in determining what that means for Missouri's athletics department.

"How does that impact other sports other than football and men's basketball, which (the judge) really geared her comments towards one or two sports?" Alden said. "We can't do that. We have to make sure if we're going to do something for one student-athlete, you have to do it for all your kids."

Solomon said a major concept of the ruling is full cost of attendance, which is the actual cost a school's financial aid office estimates it takes for a student to attend college.

"It’s really a number for all students, not only for athletes, but so parents and kids can know here’s what they’re getting for a scholarship or whatever tuition is, and it’s also the actual cost including miscellaneous expenses and transportation expenses and those types of things," Solomon said.

But Alden said he can't put his finger on how that will affect Missouri.

"When do you start factoring in what full cost of attendance means?" Alden asked. "How does that impact you at Stanford versus how does that affect you at Wake Forest? Mizzou versus whoever else?"

For Yahoo Sports columnist Pat Forde, the next big question schools face after deciding on the $5,000 stipends is how to enforce it.

"Do they (the Power Five conferences) advocate for a new governing body in terms of enforcement of rules? I don’t think they want to leave the NCAA," Forde said. "I think what they want the NCAA to do is outsource enforcement to an outside agency, some place that has more freedom to investigate."

Enforcement of paying players could also raise questions about recruiting athletes.

"Right now, you could already make the case that there is already a pretty wide gap, and that comes into recruiting," Solomon said. "Five-star recruits are typically going to the best schools because of their resources, their tradition, their history, TV exposure. That really won’t change."

Solomon added that if a lower-tier Power Five school, such as Mississippi State, were to compete against a Mountain West Conference or Sun Belt Conference school for a recruit, the extra money and security of the larger conference — the Southeastern Conference, in this case — could sway the recruit toward Mississippi State. 

In theory, that would help Missouri because of its place in the SEC, but Forde said that could create room for teams to play dirty.

"Instead of alleviating cheating, I think it could create cover for more cheating, quite honestly," Forde said. "I just think putting more money in their pockets is not going to alter the landscape in terms of rules."

In terms of financial impact, another lawsuit against the NCAA is at the forefront, and it involves high-profile attorney Jeffrey Kessler.

"The biggest thing in terms of actual monetary impact is the Jeffrey Kessler lawsuit that basically just says that players need to be paid," Forde said. "If that is successful, what is the result of that? I think no matter what, we're in a new era of the schools needing to share some of their revenues with the athletes."

In 2013, Missouri hauled in $76.3 million in revenue, a football record that was up about 50 percent from its 2012 figure. Alden said there is no way of knowing how much money would be set aside for Missouri student-athletes, but Solomon would say there is a lot of it.

"That’s really what has changed here in recent years, is the money," Solomon said. "And that’s why we’re seeing these lawsuits. There’s so much money in the system, and it was only a matter of time before the players or people representing them, like lawyers or union people, would want the players to get a share of it."

Supervising editor is Greg Bowers.


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