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Friday, August 8, 2014

Judge Rules Against NCAA in Landmark O'Bannon Case

Posted By on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 5:44 PM

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A day after the National Collegiate Athletic Association granted autonomy to its "Power 5" conferences, it's now facing a more cataclysmic change.

This afternoon Oakland federal Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the association violates anti-trust laws by withholding compensation from student athletes for use of their image and likeness, in everything from jerseys to video games to March Madness broadcasts. Per her 99-page decision, the NCAA and its licensing arm will now have to give student-athletes a share of the proceeds — up to $5,000 per athlete per year.

Though NCAA lawyers have vowed to appeal, this ruling marks yet another giant step toward paying Division I college athletes for their work. Yesterday, the NCAA voted to liberate 5 powerhouse conferences — including the Bay Area-based Pac-12 — from its governing structure, which theoretically empowers them to pay athletes already. 

Although the 65 Power 5 schools will likely use their autonomy to shower more money on recruitment, and snag better players, they may end up giving athletes a piece of the pie, as well. 

Which all goes to suggest that in 5 or 10 years, the whole concept of amateur college sports may change. In light of recent congressional hearings, athlete bids to unionize, and high-profile lawsuits like this one, the NCAA has been fighting on multiple battlefronts to preserve its status quo. If schools do wind up paying former and current athletes, then the association stands to lose millions.

But, as Drexel University Professor Ellen Staurowsky and other sports economists point out, it won't die from redistributing the wealth.

Here is the O'Bannon decision:

Landmark ruling in O'Bannon v. NCAA by The Salt Lake Tribune

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About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.

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