“The prospect of O’Bannon v. NCAA radically reshaping college sports is real”

Josh Wright —  3 September 2012

Michael McCann (Vermont, CNNSI) has a very interesting column on developments in Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit against the NCAA.   O’Bannon is challenging the NCAA’s licensing of the names, images and likenesses of former Division I college athletes for commercial purposes without compensation or consent.  McCann discusses the implications of O’Bannon’s motion to expand the class to include current players:

The prospect of O’Bannon v. NCAA radically reshaping college sports is real. If O’Bannon ultimately prevails, “student-athletes” and “amateurism” would take on new meanings in the context of D-I sports. While college athletes would still not obtain compensation for their labor, they would be compensated for the licensing of their identity. If O’Bannon instead extracts a favorable settlement from the NCAA, these athletes would likely be compensated as well.

Still, it’s early in the litigation process and, besides, the NCAA has a good record in court. The NCAA is sure to raise concerns about the new world of D-I college sports as envisioned by O’Bannon. For one, how a fund for current student-athletes is distributed and how former student-athletes are compensated will spark questions. Should star players get more? Would Title IX be implicated if male student-athletes receive more licensing revenue because they might generate more revenue than female student-athletes? Also expect some colleges and universities to bemoan that they cannot afford to contribute to player trusts unless they eliminate most of their teams and give pay cuts to coaches and staff. Along those lines, schools with large endowments or those with high revenue-generating teams may only become “richer” in a college sports world where certain schools have the financial wherewithal to compensate student-athletes while others do not.

Go read the whole thing.

 

 

One response to “The prospect of O’Bannon v. NCAA radically reshaping college sports is real”

  1. 

    ‘O’Bannon also dismisses the series of documents student-athletes are required to sign as part of their participation in college sports. These forms require student-athletes to accept the NCAA’s use of their name, image and licensing. If a player refuses to sign these forms, he will be deemed ineligible to play, which could jeopardize his athletic scholarship and ability to afford college. O’Bannon repudiates these forms as “contracts of adhesion” or unenforceable no-choice contracts.’

    This should be a considerable sticking point. It’s a misnomer to call that a “no-choice” contract–just because the only choice may be “don’t play college athletics” doesn’t mean there isn’t a choice. And the athletes certainly receive considerable value in return that goes beyond their scholarship (there’s a reason no one is passing up college football to play in the arena league).

    (Of course there may still be antitrust issues with those agreements, but that’s not my wheelhouse.)