By Bill Campbell
A federal judge published an opinion this week that found that the NCAA had violated federal antitrust prohibitions by refusing to share its wealth with the student-athletes, who are the reason why those profits pour in. I am surprised that there has been so little reaction it.
In a groundbreaking ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilkin decided to prevent the NCAA “from enforcing any rules or bylaws that would prohibit its member schools and conferences from offering their FBS football or Division I basketball recruits a limited share of the revenues generated from the use of their names, images and likenesses in addition to a full grant-in-aid.” Judge Wilkin found that the NCAA had, for decades, relied upon rules restricting competition to refuse to share any of the billions it receives in profits with the student-athletes who play for colleges and universities around the country. That has all changed now.
On August 8th, Judge Wilkin issued a ruling which allows football and men’s basketball players to receive more from schools than they are receiving now – a piece of the NCAA’s pie — though she did place some limits on the amount the student-athletes can receive. Judge Wilkins rejected the players’ proposal that they be allowed to accept money for endorsements, however, writing, “That would undermine the efforts of both the NCAA and its member schools to protect against the ‘commercial exploitation’ of student-athletes.”
Even with the restrictions she has set, Judge Wilkins is forcing the NCAA to share the wealth. As a result of this ruling, the NCAA will be allowed to set a cap on the amount of money it now must and will hold in trust for an athlete, an amount which can vary from year to year but cannot be less than $5,000 in 2014 dollars for every year the athlete remains academically eligible. Upon graduation or expiration of a scholarship, the school must release the trust sum to the student-athlete. Schools can offer less than the cap if they choose, but they cannot conspire with each other to set the amounts offered. The NCAA will be permitted to set rules preventing the athletes from using the money in trust to obtain other financial benefits while they are in school. The association also will be permitted to set rules preventing schools form offering different amounts of deferred money to athletes who are in the same recruiting class on the same team, but they have to share the profits and that’s a win for the athletes, hands down.
This case was led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon who, after a five-year battle in the courts, called the ruling “a game-changer for college athletes.” From the outset, when I saw my image being used as a character in a video game, I just wanted to right a wrong. It is only fair that your own name, image and likeness belong to you, regardless of your definition of amateurism. Judge Wilken’s ruling ensures that [this] basic principle shall apply to all participants in college athletics.” Robert Carey, the attorney for Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller, who sued in a separate case regarding college-sports-themed video games, said, “I think it’s a fantastic win for the student-athletes, and it’s rare that you have victories against the NCAA and victories in this type of antitrust case. It shows the facts were clear that there was an unfairness here.
The NCAA’s chief legal officer, Donald Remy, issued a statement which read, “We disagree with the Court’s decision that NCAA rules violate antitrust laws. We note that the Court’s decision sets limits on compensation, but are reviewing the full decision and will provide further comment later.” Counsel for the Big 12 conference, Kevin Sweeney, called the opinion “thoughtful” and said that the conference “will have to carefully evaluate this to figure out how we comply with this ruling.” The impact of Judge Wilkin’s ruling will not take effect until the start of the next Football Bowl Subdivision and Division I basketball recruiting cycles. At the earliest, the first group of recruits that will be affected would be those entering school in 2016. But it’s a new day in college football and men’s basketball and the student-athletes who bring the fans into the stadiums and arenas are the winners in this one.
Some Phillies Stats
As of Monday of this week, Ryan Howard had eleven walk-off RBIs on the books, putting him six behind Mike Schmidt in that category. Bob (“Boop”) Vetrone, Jr. had an interesting piece in the Daily News this week on the Phillies’ RBI stats, which have been kept since 1938. Here are the Phillies’ walk-off RBI leaders since ’38:
- Mike Schmidt – 17
- Ryan Howard and Willie Jones – 11
- Johnny Callison and Tony Taylor – 8
- Jimmy Rollins, Granny Hamner, Pete Rose, Scott Rolen and Dick Allen – 7
- Charlie Hayes, Chase Utley, Buddy Abrams and Mike Lieberthal – 6
- Manny Trillo, John Briggs, Von Hayes, Pat Burrell, Andy Seminick, Larry Bowa, Dave Cash, Carlos Ruiz and Dave Philley – 5
Vetrone also noted in his piece on Monday that, since the beginning of the 2012 season, the Phillies have 109 home wins (just 23rd in the majors) but an MLB-high 29 walk-off wins for that period. That means that 26.6% of their home wins have been walk-offs in the last two-plus seasons. The Florida Marlins are right behind the Phils with 21 walk-offs in their 105 home wins. Thanks, Boop.
It’s rumored that Cole Hamels has indicated he would be open to a trade to the Boston Red Sox though it likely would not occur until the off-season – if ever. Hamels has put his Newtown Square home on the market. I wonder what he’s thinking?
The Eagles had a so-so outing against the Chicago Bears last Friday evening, losing 34-28 at Soldier Field. Quarterback Nick Foles threw two interceptions in an unimpressive start. The offense looked sloppy. But the defense looked fairly sharp for a first outing. Vinny Curry and Cedric Thornton put serious pressure on the Bears offense whenever they were on the field. The Birds are set to play the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Foles vs. Brady. That should be interesting.
Just twenty-five days till opening day at The Linc, folks. I’m looking forward to it. I’m sure you are too.
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