The NCAA will appeal a ruling that found the organization in violation of antitrust laws, the organization announced on Saturday.
“We believe, and the Supreme Court has recognized, that N.C.A.A. member schools and conferences are best positioned to strengthen and revise their rules to better support student-athletes, rather than forcing these issues into continuous litigation,” NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said.
The anticipated ruling by US District Court judge Claudia Wilken was technically a win for the plaintiffs — a group of former Division I football and basketball players, led by former West Virginia running back Shawne Alston and former Cal basketball player Justine Hartman and collectively referred to as “Alston” — and a blow for the NCAA, though neither side left the courtroom feeling like victors.
Wilken found the NCAA’s amateurism rules were indeed illegal collusion. But rather than blow up the entire system and allowing conferences to set such rules as tight or loose as they would like, the judge instead ruled the NCAA could no longer cap student-athletes’ compensation and benefits only as far as said benefits applied to education.
“Technically the plaintiffs won the case and the NCAA will not be happy that they were found to be in violation of antitrust law, but ultimately this allows the NCAA to keep the bulk of their amateurism rules in place,” Gabe Feldman, director of Tulane’s sports law program, told the AP at the time.
So, athletes did not win the right to market their name, image and likeness on the free market, but the NCAA could not stop schools from giving its athletes as many laptops as they would like, to pick a rough example.
Clearly, though, the NCAA will not take that loss-that-was-in-actuality-more-like-a-victory lying down, and will instead appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, where in 2015 a three-judge panel ruled all payments to athletes must be “tethered to education.”