In light of Marcus Lattimore deciding to retire from the National Football League, I wanted to go all the way back to “Dispatches From the NCAA’s Deathbed” by Charles P. Pierce about the Ed O’Bannon trial. O’Bannon v. NCAA is an antitrust class action lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Ed O’Bannon, a former basketball player at the University of California Los Angeles, filled this case to fight for financial compensation for someone’s image.
Marcus Lattimore was the best high school running back recruit in 2010, best football recruit in the state of South Carolina, and the 10th best recruit in the entire country. He committed to the University of South Carolina and was considered the best recruit in the history of the school. He was compared to Knowshon Moreno who is currently making 3 million dollars in 2014 in the NFL. Marcus Lattimore had an unbelievable freshman year at USC rushing for 1200 yards and 17 touchdowns. However, in 2011, Marcus Lattimore tore both his ACL and MCL in his left knee, but recovered and was able to continue his career. Then, in 2012, he tore all three-knee ligaments in his right knee and dislocated his right knee. At this point, it was thought Lattimore may never play again, but the San Francisco 49ers still drafted him in the 4th round because of the potential of him regaining his top-tier skill. However, on November 5th, 2014, Marcus Lattimore announced his retirement from the NFL without ever taking a snap.
Marcus Lattimore played his heart out for South Carolina. He led them to the SEC championship game. He built them into the program they are today. All of his hard work has “paid” off for others, but because Lattimore was too hurt, he was unable to ever get “paid” for his hard work.
In 2011, the University of South Caroline sold season tickets for $320 per person. Williams-Brice Stadium, South Carolina’s home stadium, holds 80,250 people. Even if they only sell half the seats in the stadium, $13 million dollars of revenue is earned that players like Marcus Lattimore do not see a penny of. I believe Lattimore should be compensated from money earned from people who pay to watch him play. However, under the scope of the O’Bannon case, compensation would not be paid because this would be directly related to Lattimore playing football. Still, the money raised by South Carolina is because of Lattimore and he deserves to see some of it.
In 2012, EA sports announced that NCAA Football 2012 broke a record for early sales by selling 700,000 copies in the first two weeks. Right off the bat, that is $42 million in revenue. Marcus Lattimore was a reason for a portion of that revenue, but he received zero dollars. If he were to be compensated for these sales, it would not be getting paid for playing football, but rather for his image, which is what O’Bannon is fighting for. By not compensating Lattimore, it is basically saying that because he is an amateur, he does not even own the right to his own name or image.
Marcus Lattimore is not a rare case of an athlete who should have earned millions, but was stalled by injuries. Unfortunately, these athletes wasted 3-4 years, and millions of dollars, by playing college sports in which they received no compensation for their hard work. Marcus Lattimore worked hard for South Carolina and EA Sports to make millions, but now will struggle for work to make thousands. Is it fair that they were able to exploit his talent to such a level that he will never be able to earn money off his own talent or name? No. The NCAA needs to change at some level, whether it is compensation for play or imagine. It must happen.