It’s Time to End the NCAA’s Corrupt Exploitation of Athletes
By: Leon H. Wolf (Diary) @ Red State
The Ninth Circuit issued a split-the-baby ruling yesterday in former UCLA athlete Ed O’Bannon’s ongoing antitrust litigation against the NCAA. Like most split-the-baby rulings, it left neither side happy and wasn’t particularly well grounded in law. Essentially, the ruling included two orders that were “favorable” to the plaintiffs, declaring that: a) The NCAA could no longer prohibit member schools from giving athletes full scholarships that truly cover the cost of tuition including incidentals like textbooks and b) that NCAA athletes must be allowed to earn up to $5000 in “names, images and licensing” (NIL) payments, deferred to the time that they leave school.
The first order makes good, common sense and I have no fundamental problem with it. The second, however, is nonsensical on its face. If, as the Ninth Circuit found (and I agree) the NCAA’s amatuerism rules with respect to players’ NIL rights are an unreasonable restraint on trade, then what is the possible logical basis for capping those payments at $5,000 and requiring that they be deferred until after graduation?
This has always been the portion of the NCAA’s regime that has bothered me the most. I am at least partially sympathetic to the NCAA’s plea that it shouldn’t allow its member schools to pay athletes outright. The standard argument about the amount of money these programs make tends to view the sports in isolation – sure, football and men’s basketball viewed in isolation are revenue generation machines.
But the problem is that NCAA’s member schools are basically required – by law (thanks, Congress!) to have football and men’s basketball subsidize a bunch of women’s sports that no one wants to watch. As a result, this idea that college football players have that they should be paid a share of football revenue commensurate with their professional counterparts isn’t really sustainable fiscally – even if football, men’s basketball and baseball really do function as de facto minor leagues, and even if I think they should be paid something…..