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Judge Wilken’s Decision in the O’Bannon Case…

2014 August 8
by Skip Sauer

in favor of the claim of the plaintiff, Ed O’Bannon. Her determination is that NCAA rules (again) are in violation of antitrust law. Here is the conclusion from her 99 page decision:

College sports generate a tremendous amount of interest, as well as revenue and controversy. Interested parties have strong
and conflicting opinions about the best policies to apply in regulating these sports. Before the Court in this case is only
whether the NCAA violates antitrust law by agreeing with its member schools to restrain their ability to compensate Division I
men’s basketball and FBS football players any more than the current association rules allow. For the reasons set forth above,
the Court finds that this restraint does violate antitrust law.

To the extent other criticisms have been leveled against the NCAA and college policies and practices, those are not raised and
cannot be remedied based on the antitrust causes of action in this lawsuit. It is likely that the challenged restraints, as well as other perceived inequities in college athletics and higher education generally, could be better addressed as a policy matter by reforms other than those available as a remedy for the antitrust violation found here. Such reforms and remedies could be undertaken by the NCAA, its member schools and conferences, or Congress. Be that as it may, the Court will enter an injunction, in a separate order, to cure the specific violations found in this case.

The clerk shall enter judgment in favor of the Plaintiff class. Plaintiffs shall recover their costs from the NCAA. The
parties shall not file any post-trial motions based on arguments that have already been made.

Dated: August 8, 2014 CLAUDIA WILKEN
United States District Judge

This will take some time to digest. Judge Wilken does not pretend that she has the last word on this, but it appears at first reading to be a clear-eyed, monumental decision. Read it, and see where you come down on the issue.

2 Responses
  1. L.William Marshall permalink
    August 15, 2014

    If I understand this correctly they will become employees of these educational institutions and receive pay. does this not make them professional and therefore are not amatures anymore ? I believe that should mean that they are not eligible to play in the ncaa.

  2. Michael C permalink
    August 19, 2014

    The NCAA is an organization that colludes between institutions to create a professional athletic circuit by suppressing wages and limiting opportunity. The amateur/pro distinction is a falsely created one that attempts to work around restrictions on monopolistic behavior, but this ruling and an objective analysis would suggest that players perform a valuable entertainment service for which the school receives monetary compensation.
    Not paying the players and threatening any school that does with expulsion from the NCAA does not make the players or purpose of the NCAA “amateur”. It is only NCAA rules that limit competition that prevent a player from getting an official endorsement, though the player will be sporting multiple university contracted endorsements on their clothing while playing a prime time televised sporting event with billions more in advertisement.

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