Lawsuit vs. NCAA including two Arizona Wildcats raises questions



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The Arizona football team begins its 2013 season against Northern Arizona at Arizona Stadium on Aug. 30, which is 42 days away. From now until then, this Web site will count down the days with facts about the Wildcats, their players, coaching staff and opponents. This is not a ranking, only a list of 100 facts and observances related to the 2013 Arizona football team and coach Rich Rodriguez.

The likeness of Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer (33) and safety Jared Tevis close in on a sack of would-be ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly in the EA Sports NCAA Football '14 game (WILDABOUTAZCATS.net screen shot)

The likeness of Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer (33) and safety Jared Tevis close in on a sack of would-be ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly in the EA Sports NCAA Football ’14 game (WILDABOUTAZCATS.net screen shot)

Put yourself in Jake Fischer’s shoes, or better yet, his jersey.

The Arizona Daily Wildcat reported Thursday that Fischer’s jersey No. 33 is available for sale. If you want a Ka’Deem Carey No. 25 jersey instead this season, you’re out of luck because Nike, at the recommendation of Arizona’s coaches, went with Fischer’s senior status to market No. 33.

The news is not all that bad for Carey. Fischer will not receive a cent when Arizona fans purchase his No. 33 blue jersey for $120. The money goes to Nike, the NCAA and Arizona.

So put yourself in Fischer’s situation. Let’s say with your occupation, the corporation that employs you used your likeness to market something for their financial good, not yours. Would you stand by, unpaid, and allow others to fill their wallets using your likeness?

The Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA has hit Arizona like a monsoon. Will the storm blow over fast or will the lawsuit, now involving Fischer and teammate Jake Smith, resonate?

O’Bannon’s lawsuit alleges the NCAA is violating the rights of athletes to receive profits from video games and other products that use players’ names, likenesses and images. Fischer and Smith and four other NCAA football players joined O’Bannon Thursday in the lawsuit that argues players deserve a share of the revenues from such likenesses that go to the NCAA, conferences and member schools.

Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer, left, and place-kicker Jake Smith talk on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" show about their lawsuit against the NCAA (ESPN screen shot)

Arizona linebacker Jake Fischer, left, and place-kicker Jake Smith talk on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” show about their lawsuit against the NCAA (ESPN screen shot)

“For me, it’s about money for the fact that the revenue generated is so vast and the players and basically the people that drive the engine that is the NCAA, and drive such large revenues, don’t really see a dime of it,” Smith told ESPN about the lawsuit.

“It’s not the fact that I think players should necessarily be paid, but I think that we have a value. We are the only class of citizens in the country that can’t capitalize on your value when you’re at your highest. Where do we get our value? Where do we get compensated for our fair value when we drive such a large engine?”

The move to add Fischer and Smith the other current athletes to the suit came a day after the NCAA announced that it would no longer allow co-defendant EA Sports to use its name and logo in its video games. EA Sports, which no longer makes an NCAA basketball video game, plans to continue producing a college football game. The conference and schools market their licenses separately from the NCAA.

Fischer, who led the Wildcats with 119 tackles last season, told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that he joined the lawsuit not because of money, but to give players a voice on issues of long-term health and access to a quality education.

Fischer and Smith each suffered a torn ACL injury playing college football. They have healed enough to play this season. Smith has yet to play in a game for Arizona after spending time with Syracuse and Youngstown State.

Their football injuries can affect them after their college careers with no guarantee of health care.

“Honestly, I stepped forward for the future well-being, safety, health of student-athletes,” Fischer told ESPN. “Obviously, we won’t be in college when the case is done but we’re just looking out for our teammates right now and for future athletes all over the country, really.”

Where do you stand in this debate?

On the side of O’Bannon, Fischer, Smith and the four other NCAA football players (Vanderbilt linebacker Chase Garnham, Clemson cornerback Darius Robinson, and Minnesota tight end Moses Alipate and wide receiver Victor Keise)?

Or do you believe O’Bannon and the current athletes are asking for too much after receiving scholarship aid, paid travel, lodging and meals, personal academic support and the ability to market themselves for future career possibilities while competing?

Do you believe athletes unjustly already have privileges other students do not receive? Or do you think athletes deserve more than the common student for using their “free” time aside from their studies by practicing, training and competing wearing the school’s name across their chests?

I applaud Fischer and Smith for their effort because it shows their determination to make a difference. But I must question why more athletes did not join this fight. Are the vast majority of athletes apathetic to this cause because the status quo is fine? Do they believe they get enough from having a free ride when it comes to attending classes and utilizing the weight-training facility?

Many of these players play NCAA Football ’14 and get a kick out of seeing how their likeness performs. I can’t help but think many of them — like their fellow classmates — want the EA Sports game to continue.

If they play the game, and join O’Bannon’s cause, is that hypocritical?

My advice: Use some of the revenue generated from the EA Sports game and the jerseys to provide health benefits to former athletes. Put the money in a pool to benefit all football players after their collegiate careers based on their financial need.

* * * * *

The best Arizona player to wear No. 42, according to TucsonCitizen.com’s Anthony Gimino, is split end Hank Stanton (1939-41). Nicknamed “Birdlegs,” Stanton, the Arizona Hall of Famer led the nation with 50 receptions in 1941, an NCAA record at the time.

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Last year, this site and TucsonCitizen.com ran a Top 50 Games in the history of Arizona football series. I will relive that list here with less than 50 days to kickoff and add one game to it: Arizona’s improbable 49-48 win over Nevada in the New Mexico Bowl last December. I will keep the ranking of that game secret in the new top 50 list until the day I publish it.

No. 42 — Sun Devil nemesis Dan White quarterbacks Arizona into Fiesta Bowl with win over ASU

No. 43 — Struggling UA gets improbable win against ’83 Pac-10 champ UCLA (TucsonCitizen.com)

No. 44 — Closing chapter of “The Streak” includes Arizona’s dramatic fourth-quarter heroics

No. 45 — Arizona overcomes rival Texas Tech with unfathomable late-game rally

No. 46 — Dick Tomey, the Desert Fox, does a number on UCLA by changing offense in midseason

No. 47 — “The Streak” reaches three games, UA achieves best Pac-10 finish

No. 48 — Arizona’s first game at Arizona Stadium in 1929, a 35-0 win over Cal Tech

No. 49 — Underdog Arizona’s 2011 thriller over arch-rival Arizona State

No. 50 — Arizona’s first win over arch-rival Arizona State, then known as Territorial Normal

Dropped out — Arizona’s first win in program’s history: 22-5 over Tucson Indians

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The Doak Walker Award watch list was announced Thursday. The watch-list announcements will continue through July 19. This site will update after the announcements.

The current Pac-12 breakdown (by school) of players on the watch lists:

1. Stanford 20
2. USC 18
3. Oregon 17
ASU 17
5. UCLA 14
6. Oregon State 11
7. Washington 6
8. Colorado 5
9. Arizona 3
California 3
11. Washington State 2
12. Utah 1

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WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.


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