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Judge dismisses NCAA’s motion preventing players from pursuing TV revenue

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The debate over allowing student-athletes to be compensated beyond the value of their athletic scholarship took an intriguing turn on Tuesday. A federal judge in the Ed O’Bannon case dismissed a motion filed by the NCAA, along with Collegiate Licensing Company, that would prevent football and men’s basketball players from legally pursuing a cut of TV revenue from live sporting event broadcasts.

The dismissal keeps the door open for the O’Bannon lawsuit to become a class-action. O’Bannon, a former UCLA basketball player, has led the suit since 2009 over the NCAA’s use of players’ images, names and likenesses in rebroadcasts. Recently, however, the plaintiffs amended their case to include current athletes and live TV broadcasts.

The NCAA tried (and failed) to call B.S. on that amendment.

“Now the (NCAA and its co-defendants) are facing potential liability that’s based on the billions of dollars in revenue instead of tens or hundreds of millions,” Michael Hausfeld, interim lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said via ESPN’s “Outside the Lines”. “It’s a more accurate context for what the players deserve.”

A tentative date for a class certification hearing is still over a year away and the motion’s dismissal was not a decision that directly results in college athletes getting a slice of television revenue. There’s still an argument to be made over merit which the NCAA can win.

But the fight for athletes to legally pursue a cut of what has become a multi-billion business has continued life. With every new TV deal that is struck to obtain the broadcasts rights of a college football or men’s basketball game, the NCAA’s bread and butter argument of amateurism gets harder to defend.

Actually, that’s being kind; you can’t defend it. At least not from a non-legal perspective. The expectations from every aspect — players, coaches, admins and fans — are too high to consider football and men’s basketball “just a game.” I mean, it is just a game, but it’s not operated or even viewed that way.

That doesn’t mean the NCAA still isn’t doing its best to hold on to the leg of amateurism with a kung-fu grip as it struggles to walk out the door (and it’s not like you can fault ‘em for trying).

“Although our motion to strike was denied, the Judge has signaled skepticism on plaintiff’s class certification motion and recognized the plaintiffs’ radical change in their theory of the case,” NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said in a statement. “This is a step in the right direction toward allowing the NCAA to further demonstrate why this case is wrong on the law and that plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that this case satisfies the criteria for class litigation.”

Whether the plaintiffs in the O’Bannon suit can make a compelling enough case to allow athletes to be compensated remains to be seen, but the opportunity hasn’t been taken away yet.

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14 Responses to “Judge dismisses NCAA’s motion preventing players from pursuing TV revenue”
  1. floridacock says: Jan 30, 2013 1:43 PM

    Oh great, now we the fan can expect to pay MUCH more, since this BS trickles downhill to us. Make them all pay per view. I’ll get some fresh air.

  2. mhalt99 says: Jan 30, 2013 3:13 PM

    Oh great, now we the fan can expect to pay MUCH more, since this BS trickles downhill to us. Make them all pay per view. I’ll get some fresh air.

    I know really! Can you believe that we actually have to pay the labor that works for us!!!!! I mean, they only produce billions upon billions of dollars…….isn’t that information processing degree we give to everyone enough????????

  3. sparty0n says: Jan 30, 2013 3:40 PM

    Notre Dame 2012-2013 $42,971 avg tuition and fees

    Seems like “labor” as you call them, ARE getting paid. In the case of Notre Dame students, it’s $42,971 /yr!

  4. sparky151 says: Jan 30, 2013 4:36 PM

    The NCAA should lose this case. It sold image rights to video game makers that it didn’t own. The NCAA claims to own the image rights of current players due to an adhesion clause in the current grant in aid “agreement” but it’s hard to call it an agreement when it’s non-negotiable. The NCAA is a cartel organized by member institutions to reduce competition for student-athletes. That’s a straightforward violation of federal law and no more lawful than the college consortium that coordinated financial aid offers to elite colleges. MIT lost that case and the NCAA should lose here too.

  5. mdac1012 says: Jan 30, 2013 5:47 PM

    So an institution can make millions by selling jerseys with my name on it, sell my likeness to video game companies without my permission, use my name and likeness to advertise to sell tickets, use my ability as a player to negotiate multi million dollar television deals and I get $42,971 a year for it? Yeah, that makes sense.

    I know it opens up a whole can of worms, paying college players, Title IX implications, etc, but where else in the U.S. do people with specialized skills, that generate this kind of revenue not get properly compensated for it?

  6. jrbdmb says: Jan 30, 2013 5:56 PM

    Well, as a player you could try to generate your own revenue by selling memorabilia, getting housing benefits for your family, etc …. oh that’s right you can’t.

    But your conference can sign a TV contract worth billions, your school can take million dollar contributions from alumni, and you coach can sign a $5 million dollar shoe deal. But if you are given a $50 shirt or a tattoo then all hell breaks loose. OK.

  7. Woody Bass says: Jan 30, 2013 7:01 PM

    What about all the money the schools out up to build the facilities etc. What about all the free training, meals, lodging, travel and oh I dunno.. FREE EDUCATION thats worth 100s of thousands if they apply it?

  8. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 30, 2013 8:01 PM

    I’d have to side on the NCAA on this situation based on the actual facts.

    1. The student athlete does receive a substantial financial value at an NCAA member institution in the form of room, board, and an opportunity to obtain a
    University degree. That in and of itself has earnings
    potential that magnifies over a 30 to 40 year career.

    2. By allowing the lawsuit to continue, University sports will never be the same. Why? one little provision that affects all college sports at all levels in the NCAA and the NAIA. Title IX.

    Should the law suit proceed to trial AND the plaintiffs win, college sports are done, fini, bye bye gone with the wind. No University, will subsidize their student athletes to the tune of , let’s say, $3,000 a year stipend. Now before you say, “Yeah, let’s pay every member of Dear old Alma Mater on the Men’s Football and Men’s Basketball Teams $3,000 a year stipend!” Wrong, Title IX would require EACH and every athlete, man or woman to be treated the same, so EVERY athlete would have to be paid. My Alma
    Mater, Alabama, has 525 student athletes. That’s an additional $1,525,000 a year increase in cost added to an athletic Department’s operating expense.

    Schools like Alabama, Texas, Ohio State, and Notre Dame (ND athletes would have to take a pay cut….. just kidding.) would more than likely be able to pay the cost. (Ohio State would just have to open a tattoo parlor and memorabilia shop).

    What about the marginal Division I programs that do not have a large alumni base? Do you think cash strapped State Legislatures would approve such stipends for all their Division I, II III and NAIA programs? You think Slippery Rock University could support paying all their student athletes? Marshall? Howard? Alcorn State? You would see massive constriction of University Athletic programs to maybe two men’s programs (Football and Basketball) and maybe 4 or 5 women’s programs to balance the Men’s programs. That would lead to educational opportunities being denied to thousands of kids at the university level to obtain an education and have athletics pay for it.

    I could see college athletics evolving into corporate sponsored club sports for teens, totally
    devoid of a University affiliation and the University experience will be poorer for it.

  9. mdac1012 says: Jan 30, 2013 8:58 PM

    The Title IX argument is interesting, the whole argument about who gets paid what is the can of worms I was talking about. But as far as I know, there is no language in Title IX that says schools must spend the same on men’s and women’s sports. If that were the case, you would have to cut all the big football programs because their budgets alone probably trump the entire budget for all the women’s sports at those schools combined.

    Title IX has to do more with opportunity in terms of scholarship availability, number of sports, if the mens teams are getting new equipment, the womens teams get new equipment….etc. The cost to pay for those scholarships or equipment does not have to be equal as far as I have read.

  10. sparky151 says: Jan 30, 2013 9:18 PM

    Title IX itself wouldn’t have any effect on the NCAA having to share revenue. The small schools that don’t generate much revenue won’t have much to share anyway. The powers won’t be any worse off. There’s no requirement that every school spend the same amount, simply that male and female athletes be treated similarly within an institution. Even that doesn’t require that the members of the women’s basketball team get the same royalties from TV as the men’s team generates.

    The Department of Education has power to issue regulations interpreting Title IX and typically expands or contracts it depending on whether the admin is Republican or Democratic. Notice that Title IX doesn’t require that coaches in the same sport be paid the same, or that the programs be financed to the same extent. There’s not really a female counterpart to football but for basketball the women’s team at Duke or Indiana or Kentucky doesn’t generate the revenue and doesn’t require the expenditures of the men’s program. Title IX is satisfied by giving more women basketball scholarships than men (to balance out the 85 football scholarships).

  11. amosalanzostagg says: Jan 30, 2013 9:54 PM

    Sparky, the NCAA is arbiter of TV contracts. Right now there are over 600,000 student athletes attending NCAA institutions. Any proposal for revenue sharing would have to be approved by the ENTIRE membership, Division I, II and III.

    If you think women sports are going to just stand on the sideline and not demand the same stipends that Men’s Football and Men’s Basketball receive, I have some quality seafront property in Rock Springs, Wyoming that I could give you a great deal on.

    It will have a huge impact on college athletics.

  12. sparty0n says: Jan 30, 2013 10:26 PM

    @mdac1012,

    Nothing in Title IX is specific to sport to my knowledge, but the intent was equality for male and female sports. From my understanding the intent of Title IX was to ensure female athletes get the same “benefits” as mail athletes, same number of scholarships, room, board, tutors, etc….

    You’re never going to see female basketball players getting half the stipend male basketball get….. if it ever comes to that

    Per Wikipedia Title IX states (in part) that
    “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance…”

  13. sparty0n says: Jan 30, 2013 10:27 PM

    yeah, I’m tired and I said “mail athletes”…

  14. mogogo1 says: Jan 31, 2013 10:49 AM

    From the very beginning I’ve wondered how the NCAA had any prayer of winning this case. Not saying I agree with it but at least I can see some logic to the argument that current players on scholarship are getting something out of the deal. But O’Bannon had been out of school for several years when one day he noticed they had his likeness in a video game without him getting paid a dime. Pretty hard to defend that sort of thing…unless you’re the NCAA.

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