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Former Wildcat who took on the NCAA talks about player opt-out

Posted at 8:00 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 23:00:03-04

TUCSON, Arizona — If anyone knows about taking on the college athletics, it's NFL player-agent Jake Smith. Back in 2013, as an Arizona Wildcat kicker, he joined a lawsuit against the NCAA. It alleged that it, along with video gamer maker EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Co. violated federal antitrust laws by using player likeness without compensation.

Smith, who now works for Klutch Sports Group in Los Angeles, is watching the Pac-12 player opt-out movement with great interest. He says that the demands of the student-athletes, like splitting earned revenue, isn't so outrageous.

"If you look at every other sports league, every other franchise or major sports organization, you see exactly how their revenue is shared," said Smith. "Do I think they are going to get to 50-50? Probably not. But, they should, and they could. Because what they are asking for makes sense."

The 2013 lawsuit, which was originally filed by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon, ended up requiring colleges to cover cost-of-living expenses that were not currently part of NCAA scholarships. However, student-athletes were not to be paid. More than six years after that verdict, Smith believes the system of compensation will soon change.

"So, I think there is going to be a massive shift. I think the changes have been brewing. If you look around the country at several states passing different bills, it being talked about at the federal level. The NCAA is going to fight to maintain the status quo because the status quo works for them. But, it’s not fair or equitable to the players."