U.S. judge rules against NCAA, says athletes can be paid

Fri Aug 8, 2014 7:31pm EDT
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By Dan Levine

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The National Collegiate Athletic Association has violated antitrust laws and must allow colleges to offer student athletes a limited share of revenue, a U.S. judge ruled on Friday in a lawsuit that seeks to redefine traditional notions of sports amateurism.

More than 20 current and former athletes sued, saying that players should share in the profits of college athletics, a highly lucrative business in which universities reap billions of dollars from men's football and basketball.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California, on Friday issued an injunction to allow students to recover some revenue generated from use of their names, images and likenesses. Wilken did not put the injunction on hold pending appeal but said it will not take effect until the start of the next recruiting cycle.

“We disagree with the Court's decision that NCAA rules violate antitrust laws," said NCAA Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy.

"We note that the Court's decision sets limits on that compensation, but are reviewing the full decision and will provide further comment later. As evidenced by yesterday’s Board of Directors action, the NCAA is committed to fully supporting student-athletes."

The ruling adds to the mounting legal, political and public pressure for colleges to share the revenue athletic programs generate and give student athletes better benefits. In April, football players at Northwestern University became the first U.S. student athletes to vote on whether to unionize.

The majority of college athletes do not go on to play professionally and critics say the NCAA's current scholarship policy short-changes athletes who risk injury and devote many hours to practice sessions, travel and competition.

Earlier this week, the NCAA gave the five biggest college conferences broader authority to set their own rules on areas such as scholarships, insurance and travel for athletes' families.   Continued...