The failure to compensate big school college athletes has always been about worker fairness and, arguably, race discrimination.
Now a federal judge has cut through the propaganda by ruling that the National Collegiate Athletic Association violated federal anti-trust law by prohibiting schools and conferences from paying players for the rights to their names, images and likenesses.
It is an important - albeit partial -victory for big school basketball and football players.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken permitted institutions to set a $5,000 cap per year on the money paid to big school football and basketball players and ordered the payments to be placed in trust, payable upon the expiration of the athlete’s athletic eligibility or graduation, whichever comes first.
Wilken said the cap is necessary to address NCAA concerns. “The NCAA’s witnesses stated that their concerns about student-athlete compensation would be minimized or negated if compensation was capped at a few thousand dollars per year,” Wilken wrote.
Former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon and 19 others sued the NCAA for violating antitrust laws by conspiring with the schools and conferences to block student athletes from getting a share of the revenues generated from the use of their images in broadcasts and video games.
“The Court finds that the challenged NCAA rules unreasonably restrain trade in the market for certain educational and athletic opportunities offered by NCAA Division I schools,” Wilken wrote.