Sunday, August 17, 2014

More commentary on the O'Bannon case

LA Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik thinks the O'Bannon case - which takes its name from a former UCLA athlete - means less than some might think.

...Few people have the courage to mess with the business enterprise that is big-time university sports. Not the National Collegiate Athletic Assn., which supposedly monitors academic standards for "scholar-athletes" and protects them from commercial exploitation. And not U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of Oakland, who handed down a landmark antitrust ruling about a week ago that undermines the NCAA's ban on paying student athletes what they're worth.

Many observers say that Wilken threw the NCAA for a big loss. They're wrong.
It's true that Wilken chipped away at some NCAA prohibitions on athlete compensation, notably the ban on paying them for the licensing of their "names, images, and likenesses." (This was the particular target of the plaintiffs, led by Ed O'Bannon, the former UCLA basketball star.) She recognized big-college sports as a business, not amateur competition, which can hardly come as a surprise to the NCAA or university presidents.

But her ruling — which the NCAA plans to appeal — still is shadowed by this outmoded concept as it applies to football and basketball...

Full column at

Hiltzik's basic point is that football and basketball are different from other sports that have not become de facto commercial enterprises.  The court opinion tries to cover all college sports, ignoring the difference.

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