Everyone who has watched the NCAA recently can see that the organization in charge of overseeing college athletics is in trouble. Whether they have been overstepping their authority in handing down punishment, illegally obtaining information for their investigations or getting their butts kicked in litigation, the NCAA’s hold over college athletics, and their big money-maker college football in particular, has been getting tenuous. And if Arizona Wildcats linebacker Jake Fischer has a say in it, they might lose their grip altogether.
Fischer, along with five other current college football players, has joined the lawsuit of former UCLA Bruins point guard Ed O’Bannon against the NCAA. O’Bannon’s suit alleges that the NCAA, along with EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Co., violated antitrust laws by using players’ names, likenesses and images in video games and other products. The suit was amended last year, asking that current players be added to the suit to allow damages to be awarded to players still in school and not just those who have moved on.
Arizona’s leading tackler in 2012, Fischer gladly took up the cause on behalf of student-athletes across the country to give them a voice in this very important court case.
“Honestly, I stepped forward for the future well-being, safety and health of student-athletes. We have both met a ton of people since we’ve been here who have lingering effects from injuries, not getting a great education, not having all the capabilities or the opportunities that a regular student athlete would have, and honestly, we would just like to try and fix that.”
There is plenty on the line for Fischer as he stands up to the NCAA. He is on a number of watch lists for postseason awards, including the Bednarik Award, given to the nation’s top defensive player. But this is an issue that goes beyond the football field and Fischer is making his stand on behalf of all student-athletes who are often a voiceless cog in the money making machine of the NCAA.
Will his stand make a difference? Or will the NCAA make life difficult for Fischer for standing against his sport’s governing body?