Klein & Wilson

Ruling against NCAA could change college sports

In what was described earlier this summer as the case that could fundamentally change the NCAA has come to an end…at least for now. A federal judge recently ruled that the NCAA violated antitrust laws by denying college football and basketball players the right to sell the rights to their images and likenesses, essentially striking down long held regulations that prohibit college athletes from earning money other than scholarships and the cost of attending the schools they play for.

In a 99 page ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken found that federal antitrust rules did not allow the NCAA to limit players ability to profit from their images in the name of amateurism.  The judge also issued an injunction that would allow players at large schools (which includes the power conferences, Pac-12, Big 10, SEC, ACC and Big-12) to benefit from a trust fund generated by money produced by lucrative television contracts.

Naturally, the NCAA disagrees with the ruling, and plans to appeal it. In the meantime, the judge ruled that it could set caps on how much players could receive through the trust fund, although a floor of $5000 per athlete per year was established.

In lieu of an appeal, the ruling has prompted the power five conferences to rethink the way it compensates athletes given the money they make through television contracts. They insist that players will not be paid directly, and the payment mechanism to current players could take time to manifest itself.

The ruling may be of little solace to former college athletes, given that they gave up their right to be paid before trial.

Source: ABC News.com “Judge rules against NCAA in O’Bannon case,” Tim Dahlberg, August 8, 2014

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