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A litany of scandals in recent years have made the corruption of college sports constant front-page news.We profess outrage each time we learn that yet another student-athlete has been taking money under the table.But while amateurism—and the free labor it provides—may be necessary to the preservation of the NCAA, and perhaps to the profit margins of various interested corporations and educational institutions, what if it doesn’t benefit the athletes? “Ninety percent of the NCAA revenue is produced by 1 percent of the athletes,” Sonny Vaccaro says. “Ninety percent African Americans.” The NCAA made its money off those kids, and so did he.
“The kids and their parents gave me a good life,” he says in his peppery staccato. Sonny Vaccaro and his wife, Pam, “had a mountain of documents,” he said.
Hausfeld read to me from page 390: The college player cannot sell his own feet (the coach does that) nor can he sell his own name (the college will do that).
This is the plantation mentality resurrected and blessed by today’s campus executives. (He is now 89.) Was that part of the plaintiffs’ strategy for the O’Bannon trial? “I’d rather the NCAA lawyers not fully understand the strategy,” he said.
Someone tracked down Vaccaro on vacation in Athens, Greece, and he flew back directly to meet Hausfeld.
The shoe salesman and the white-shoe lawyer made common cause. When I talked with Hausfeld there not long ago, he sat in a cavernous conference room, tidy in pinstripes, hands folded on a spotless table that reflected the skyline.
Then the Sherman Antitrust Act would provide for thorough discovery to break down exactly what the NCAA receives on everything from video clips to jerseys, contract by contract. The recommendation was based on the worthy truism that sunlight is a proven disinfectant. Conferences, coaches, and other stakeholders resisted disclosure; college players still have no way of determining their value to the university.