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Tag Archives: NCAA

Sports Law Links

It has been a busy couple of weeks in the world of sports law. The Sports Esquires rounds up the top stories in sports law as part of our effort to keep you informed about all that is happening behind the scenes of your favorite leagues and teams.

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The Curious Case of Ed O’Bannon: How the NCAA Managed to Lose Almost Every Point in the Landmark Case and Still Avoid Having to Make Any Sweeping Changes.

On Friday, August 8, the first decision in a wave of litigation against the NCAA hit the shores. The decision by Judge Claudia Wilken of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California is both important and intriguing. The decision is the first time in major litigation that a court has not given deference to the NCAA’s commitment to amateurism when those regulations seem to conflict with antitrust laws. The decision has been hailed by many as “the death of amateurism;” however, a close analysis will show that statement to be a minor exaggeration. In reality, it will merely force the NCAA to make better and more reasoned arguments for what it does.

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A New (and Improved?) NCAA Governance

In a landmark 16-2 vote today, the NCAA Division I Board of Directors voted to give the Power Five Conferences (the 65 schools of the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, PAC-12, and SEC) more autonomy and the ability to make their own decisions over certain aspects of the collegiate model.[i] These conferences will now be able to initiate legislative changes of their own, which could start as soon as October 1 to get into the legislative cycle for April voting.

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Dr. Enforcement: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love NCAA Interpretive Flexibility

The NCAA announced a new interpretive philosophy. If this philosophy works, everyone wins. Student-athletes will likely receive more minimal participation benefits without having to pay back paltry amounts. Compliance offices can actually say yes to coaches and staff members more often, without the NCAA second-guessing the institution. Lastly, the NCAA’s small and overburdened enforcement staff can relax in the knowledge that they will see less violations (stupid or just minimal) cross their desks. But if the philosophy doesn’t work, the NCAA could devolve into interpretive chaos, and just become another thorn in the organization’s side.

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Could the NCAA Lose Its Tax-Exempt Status?

Football players at Northwestern have cast their union votes. Beyond the outcome of that vote, much uncertainty remains. If the status of scholarship athletes as employees is confirmed on appeal, what does it do to their status as amateur athletes? For student athletes who choose to unionize, what additional benefits/compensation will they seek, and what effect with that have on their amateur statuses? And what effect will these developments have on the tax-exempt status of the NCAA and its member institutions? As you’ll see, the answer to these questions may all be up to the NCAA itself.

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Unionizing Student Athletes: An Overview of What Lies Ahead

The biggest news yesterday in the sports law world was of course that Northwestern’s Kain Colter is seeking to unionize his fellow members of the Wildcat football team. While this is certainly a big deal, it is a long way from coming to fruition and is fraught with obstacles that must be overcome. Moreover, unionizing college athletes will also open a pandora’s box of secondary issues that will have to be addressed. Tax-exemptions, Title-IX, the O’Bannon antitrust suit, and a slew of other issues will have to be addressed if the landscape of collegiate-athletics is overhauled by unionizing the players.

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