Court: Colleges don't owe student-athletes beyond cost of attendance
- On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that NCAA colleges only owe student-athletes compensation for attendance.
- The New York Times reports that while the panel upheld a previous federal ruling that chided the NCAA's efforts to preserve amateurism and declared it is "not above antitrust laws," it rejected a proposal that student athletes should receive an annual $5,000 in deferred compensation on top of the cost of attendance.
- NCAA President Mark Emmert issued a statement in response to the ruling, saying that while the organization had not yet read the 78-page decision, it agrees with the rejection of the annual $5,000 in cash compensation and disagrees with the idea of a court mandate requiring member schools to pay as much as the full cost of attendance.
The issue of compensation for student-athletes is a long-brewing and complex one, with a number of recent cases and disputes threatening to upend the college sports business model. This case, O'Bannon v. NCAA, was brought by former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon over the use of his name and likeness in broadcasts and videogames. According to the case, student-athletes are required to sign waivers omitting them from revenue in the the billion-dollar contracts involved.
Earlier this year, the National Labor Relations Board sacked Northwestern University football players' attempts to unionize, asserting that it had no jurisdiction in the matter and leaving the athletes with no one to appeal to.
While both situations might not have fully effected the change they sought, some changes have occurred as a result. As ESPN reported in August, schools have made four-year scholarships available instead of renewalbe one-year scholarships and are offering enhanced medical benefits, and the NCAA now has a student-athlete seat on its board of directors.
Still, there are plenty of arguments for and against the current college sports model. While a number of prominent basketball and football programs undoubtedly attract interest in their colleges and universities, critics question whether higher ed should be subsidizing what is effectively a minor league — particuarly in the "one-and-done" era, and given the propensity for equally bad PR from scandals like UNC's 'paper classes.' There are those on both sides who might agree, however, that college sports stars should be entitled to at least a cut of revenue from the use of their likenesses.
- The New York Times Court Strikes Down Payments to College Athletes
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