OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — College football has changed more than anyone ever could have imagined this offseason as many teams including OU and Texas moved conferences. However, one man believes he is to blame.
Andy Coates, the lawyer who convinced the Supreme Court back in 1984 to allow universities to maximize football revenue, is regretting what he fought for 40 years ago.
As multiple college sports conferences are on the brink of no longer existing, Andy Coates looks back on that historic day in 1984 and wonders to himself—how did college football get to this point, and is he the one to blame for it?
“The NCAA never lost a case,” Andy Coates, lawyer said. “I mean, it’s like suing the IRS; if you screw around too much, they’ll get you. However, it was our hope that we could make some kind of an agreement with NCAA during those times.”
Imagine it is a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon in 1982 and you are probably getting ready to watch some college football, except there is one big problem.
“The NCAA only allowed one game on Saturday afternoon, the game of the week, and there was a lot of schools that had never been on television,” Coates said.
Coates decided that something needed to be changed, so he and his legal team went after the NCAA, something no one has had success doing prior, and he won.
He convinced the Supreme Court to allow universities to maximize football revenue. It was a win for the ages, but no one could have predicted what would come decades later.
“I don’t think anybody could foresee that happening, but it’s what happened,” Coates said. “Conferences are changing and all kinds of things happen, and it’s certainly because we released the Tiger.”
College football turned into a TV driven money-grab, essentially stripping the power and authority of the NCAA.
“Then the NCAA was too powerful, now they’re not powerful enough,” Coates said.
“Now it’s just obviously the little league of the NFL and it’s being supported by taxpayer dollars,” Gray Blevins said.
Colleges started hopping back and forth between conferences, going to where the money is, which has most fans upset.
“I think interest will be lost for college football which is really unfortunate,” Blevins said.
However, others believe it has brought more good than bad.
“You could say it’s ruined college football, but in some ways that’s what made the difference back then,” Randy Heitz, Executive Producer on The Franchise said. “It allowed schools like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, everyone to be on every week, and it gave the fans a platform to be able to witness their schools even when they lived across country and couldn’t make games.”
With all the movement between colleges and conferences, Coates worries it is only going to get worse, all stemming back to the 1984 court case he won and in his words, “screwing up” college football.
“Justice Byron White, one of the most amazing guys I’ve ever known, he was a running back in Colorado known as Wizard White, and he dissented from the opinion,” Coates said. “But after I’d argued the case, I was with him at a function somewhere and he said, ‘you might win that case, but you’ll regret it.'”
While Coates says he doesn’t necessarily regret going after the NCAA and winning that case nearly four decades ago, he wishes he would have done things differently that would have possibly prevented what college football is today.