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NCAA announces it will appeal O'Bannon lawsuit loss

The NCAA is set to appeal a judgment made against it in a lawsuit raised by former UCLA player Ed O'Bannon (©GettyImages)
The NCAA is set to appeal a judgment made against it in a lawsuit raised by former UCLA player Ed O'Bannon (©GettyImages).

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilkin laid down the hammer on the NCAA with a 99-page ruling last week in the Ed O'Bannon case which determined the NCAA violated antitrust laws when it failed to compensate student-athletes for the use of their name, image or likeness.

The verdict was expected, and in a move that was just as anticipated, the NCAA announced that it will be appealing the ruling.

"It should be noted that the Court supported several of the NCAA's positions," said a statement from Donald Remy, the NCAA's chief legal officer. "For more than three years, we've been working to improve the college experience."

Remy went on to cite the recent passage of a new governance model for the Power-5 conferences, which passed Thursday, as an example of the NCAA's improved support for students. 

"Further, the Court rejected the plaintiffs claims that the NCAA licensed student-athletes' names, images and likeness to EA Sports or anyone else," Remy wrote. "It also rejected the plaintiffs' proposed model where athletes could directly market their names, images and likenesses."

It's not surprising that the NCAA will challenge the ruling.

After all, the beleaguered institution may have lost the court battle, but it didn't lose by much.

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The push for change

The loudest voices have been those in support of NCAA reform.

The New York Times' Joe Nocera led a media-driven push to change the system and high-publicity lawsuits such as the O'Bannon suit and a $70 million concussion settlement with former players have brought the publicity fight to the streets.

Their push is simple: How can the NCAA, which made a reported $912.8 million last year, still justify not paying its players?

It's one thing to say a scholarship is enough when no-one else profits, from the coaches to the athletic departments to the universities.

But when there is that much money at play? That's more difficult.

An opposed public

Some sources have been more hesitant on paying athletes.

Traditionalists have trouble imaging a college sports landscape that looks exactly like the professional one - a bevy star-studded athletes being paid to entertain.

A U.S. News & World Report round table saw a split response on the question of whether athletes should get paid.

Four sports business professionals and other groups said yes, while three others said no.

Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor at Smith College, made the case that the cost would just be too high to make sense. Richard Burton, a Syracuse University sports management professor, said a college education is payment enough.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released in March showed that most everyday sports fans don't want to see college athletes paid. The results were 64 percent against payment and 33 percent in favor.

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