Like Fox News, we report, you decide.
In this episode, we’ll consider the nature of what a sports fan purchases and expects when he or she buys season tickets. Wins aren’t guaranteed, we can agree, but what happens if a fan watches a team win every home game, only to have those home games vacated by the NCAA for alleged rule infractions? Aren’t we buying the experience and memories of being at the game when [FILL IN THE BLANK] happens?
Three years ago, Derrick Rose led the University of Memphis basketball team to the NCAA Tournament final, only to lose to Kansas.
Fans who bought tickets certainly got their money’s worth for the season as the Tigers won 38 games. But, after the season was over and Rose had left for the NBA, the NCAA would vacate the Tigers’ wins because Rose, it was alleged, had someone else take his SAT exam before enrolling at Memphis, making him ineligible, and his brother had received $1,700 in airfare and hotels by the program.
So how is this law related? Three Memphis lawyers and basketball fans threatened to sue the coach, John Calipari, Rose, and athletic director R.C. Johnson. The attorneys said they represented unnamed season ticket holders upset at having to vacate the victories.
Rather than have the lawsuit filed, Calipari, Johnson and Rose agreed to settle for $100,000.
Why file this case? Under what legal theory would this case have any merit? Consumer protection? They played the games these fans paid for, and won all of them. The wins may have been vacated, but the memories exist. Trust me, as a Michigan basketball fan as a lad, I can assure you that my memories of the Fab Five’s victories are still there even if the university doesn’t count the wins. Do these guys even have standing? I don’t know Tennessee law, but I highly doubt it.
So why did Calipari and company cave? Most likely to hide everything. If the case had been filed, and discovery began, everything that happened in the Memphis basketball program under Calipari would be fair game. And the lawyers would have subpoena power, something the NCAA doesn’t have in investigating programs. Think it makes a difference? Ask Chris Webber.