OAKLAND -- NCAA president Mark Emmert is set to testify Thursday morning in federal court here, the first time he will be forced to defend under oath the organization's ban on compensating student-athletes for playing major college sports such as football and basketball.

Emmert will be a key witness in an ongoing trial involving former Division I college football and basketball players who are challenging the NCAA's policy, arguing it violates federal antitrust laws.

The trial is reaching the end of its second week before Chief U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, who is hearing the class-action case without a jury.

The judge has heard from three former college stars, including lead plaintiff Ed O'Bannon, a former UCLA basketball player, as well as a parade of expert witnesses who have explored the multibillion-dollar college sports landscape. The players argue that beyond their scholarships they should be entitled to a share of that revenue, particularly from lucrative television broadcast rights.

Emmert has been a strong defender of the NCAA's rules for student athletes.

Howard Mintz covers legal affairs. Contact him at 408-286-0236 or follow him at Twitter.com/hmintz



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