OAKLAND, Calif. — NCAA president Mark Emmert stuck to his contention that amateurism is the core of college athletics, saying any effort to pay players would destroy a framework that has been in place for more than a century and cause many schools to either abandon sports or refuse to play schools that pay.
Emmert said college athletes wouldn't want to play against athletes who were getting paid.
"They want to know the other teams consist of student-athletes just like them," he said.
Emmert took the witness stand Thursday in a landmark antitrust trial against the NCAA to say college sports would be fatally flawed if players were allowed to receive a portion of the billions of dollars in basketball and football TV revenues flowing into big conferences and colleges.
Emmert said a big reason fans like college sports is they believe the athletes are students who play for love of the sport and for their school and community. He said fans understand college players aren't as good as professionals but that doesn't stop some programs from being more popular than pro teams.
"To convert college sports into professional sports would be tantamount to converting it into minor-league sports," Emmert said. "And we know that in the U.S., minor-league sports aren't very successful, either for fan support or for the fan experience."
Emmert's testimony was much anticipated as the NCAA tries to convince U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken its system of so-called amateurism is not anticompetitive and is the best model for regulating college sports.
Watching closely from the plaintiff's table was former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon, who along with 19 other former players is seeking an injunction that would allow players to band together and sell the rights to their names, images and likenesses in broadcasts and video games.
College World Series: Will Allen drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh, Mississippi relievers held TCU without a hit after Kevin Cron's homer in the fifth, and the Rebels knocked out TCU (48-18) with a 6-4 win in Omaha, Neb. Mississippi (48-20) advanced to the final four and plays Virginia tonight. Vanderbilt faces Texas this afternoon.
Ex-USF QB transfers: Former USF quarterback Matt Floyd is transferring to South Alabama and will have two years of eligibility left. Because he has graduated from USF, he can play right away. Floyd, a fourth-year junior last year, started the season opener, a 53-21 loss to McNeese State, but never played again.
USF kickoff times: Two of USF's first four home football games, Sept. 6 against Maryland and Sept. 13 against N.C. State, will start at 3:30 p.m. Both will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network. The Aug. 30 season opener against Western Carolina will start at 7, and the Sept. 19 home contest against UConn at 8.
Times staff writer Joey Knight contributed to this report.