NCAA limits on what players can receive for playing sports “unreasonably restrain trade” in violation of antitrust laws according to US District Judge Claudia Wilken.
In a 99 page ruling, Wilken ruled in favor of a group of plaintiffs headlined by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. The ruling, which will not go into effect until next season will prevent the NCAA from “enforcing any rules or bylaws that would prohibit its member schools and conferences from offering their FBS football or Division I basketball recruits a limited share of the revenues generated from the use of their names, images, and likenesses in addition to a full grant-in-aid.”
The NCAA surely will appeal, but if it stands, this ruling will change college sports forever. Whether that is for the better or the worse, remains to be seen. I think that a lot of it will depend upon how the colleges implement this and whether they choose to use “we pay more than Enormous State University” as a recruiting tool.
I also wonder how far down the collegiate sports food chain the payments will extend. Will women’s basketball get a handout? They’d better, if the colleges don’t want to end up in court. And what about wrestling? Or golf?
Golf seems like an interesting case. If a player takes a cash payment from their college, will they still be considered an amateur by the USGA? I think that college players—with their college-provided coaches, trainers and practice facilities are already borderline non-amateurs. They have advantages that no true amateur can match. Further, for scholarship recipients, playing is their job. It is how they earn the $60,000 education. Payments would just cement it.
It would be interesting if—in future years—the US Amateur went back to being populated with true amateurs, rather than professionals-in-waiting.