A federal appeals court ruled that colleges are not required to make deferred cash payments to athletes. The ruling was made in a lawsuit filed by prior college football players in the men’s basketball players in Division I. The suit alleged that other people reaped profits from their likeness without compensating the athletes.
UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon was the leader of the group of athletes, and a trial court judge ruled in the athlete’s favor in August 2014. Although the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals was in agreement with the lower court’s ruling that earning profits from the use of college athletes’ names and images in video games and on television was in violation of antitrust laws, it struck down a plan that would pay athletes up to $5,000 annually in deferred payments.
Judge Jay Bybee wrote that there is a significant difference between making payments to college athletes that are relevant to their education and providing with them with cash that has no relation to their education. In 2014, a federal judge ruled that the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA’s) placement of a ceiling on the earnings of college football and men’s basketball players was in violation of antitrust laws. The judge stated that schools could provide the college athletes with full scholarships to pay for the entire cost of attendance, and a maximum of $5,000 in deferred compensation. However, even though the appeals court upheld the full scholarship, it denied the deferred payments.
College Athletics are Still Amateurs
President Mark Emmert of the NCAA released a statement in which he concurred with the ruling, stating that the injunction permitting students to be given a maximum of $5,000 in cash payments was wrong. He further said that member schools can give college athletes scholarships that cover up to the entire cost of their education. The NCAA believes that the decision supports its argument that college athletes are amateurs, and not professionals.
In August 2014, the NCAA started permitting its member schools to give scholarships to college athletes that covered the entire cost of attendance. An athletic scholarship had previously included payments for tuition, room and board, books, and fees. But the scholarship currently covers additional expenses, such as travel.
If paying college athletes would give them the status of professionals, and not amateurs, I agree with the ruling that they should not receive annual deferred compensation of up to $5,000. If they were to be provided with such payments, they would be considered professionals, and no longer amateur athletes. However, there should be consequences faced by those who earn profits from the use of college athletes’ names and images in video games and on television. They should not be able to profit from such usage, and should be punished for violating antitrust laws.
Authored by Roxanne Minott, LegalMatch Legal Writer and Attorney at Law