Federal judge rules NCAA must allow Colleges to pay players

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In 2014 on the eighth on August, Federal Judge, Claudia Wilken of the United States District Court in Oakland California, issued a 99-page ruling striking down a NCAA rule which prohibits athletes from making money from the use of their names and likeness in video games and television broadcasts.

Dramatic decision

The ruling will drastically reshape college sports, calling for trust funds for players in any of the top 10 conferences and all division one men’s basketball. The injunction allows the NCAA to cap the payments to players. However, if it does, the minimum payment would be $5,000 a year per football and basketball player. Division I basketball and Football Bowl Subdivision universities might pay an estimated $75 million a year to student athletes.

The NCAA and universities were given ample time to correct their books and reposition themselves as the ruling does not take effect until 2016.

Ruling clarification

To clarify, the decision does not mandate that players be paid, but that they be allowed to be paid. According to NCAA Bylaw 12.1.2 “You are not eligible for participation in a sport if you have ever taken pay, or the promise of pay, for competing in that sport.”

The distinction is important; essentially the ruling asserts if your institution makes tens of millions (sometimes more than $120 million) via its sports programs, it is a breach of trust to not fairly compensate the laborers (student-athletes) for their contributions.

Those involved respond

“The high coaches’ salaries and rapidly increasing spending on training facilities at many schools suggest that these schools would, in fact, be able to afford to offer their student-athletes a limited share of the licensing revenue generated from their use of the student-athletes’ own names, images, and likenesses,” Judge Wilken articulated.

“The main thing is you control your likeness. I’m really happy players can control their likeness, because in any other walk of life you can. I never understood why the student-athlete wasn’t able to, and now he can,” said former U.C.L.A. basketball star and lead Plaintiff Ed. O’Bannon after seeing his likeness being portrayed in a video game several years after he graduated.

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“It’s a huge day, and it’s a huge loss for the N.C.A.A. because they have relied on amateurism for so long,” said Michael Carrier, an antitrust law professor at Rutgers. “It opens the door for future challenges to all of the N.C.A.A.'s policies.”

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