“This is yet another danger to the current model of current athletics.”

Shit’s gettin’ real, NCAA.

Four athletes filed an antitrust complaint today on the eve of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament seeking to bar the association and five “power conferences” from enforcing rules that ban colleges from competing financially for players and limit payments to tuition and related fees.

The antitrust suit, if successful, may lead to bidding wars for top high-school talent. It joins a separate case, scheduled for trial in June, in which athletes seek to overturn an NCAA rule barring college players from profiting from their names, images and likenesses.

Plaintiff’s counsel ain’t exactly some jackleg, either.

Kessler has an extensive history working with professional player unions such as the NFL and NBA Players’ Associations, and helped represent the NFLPA in the landmark 1992 antitrust case in which NFL players won free agency.

Sooner or later, enough of these suits drop and the NCAA loses one.  That’s why I’m guessing somebody’s hard at work on lobbying Congress to give college athletics an antitrust exemption.  It’s easier than compromising, right?

Not that anyone at the NCAA is ready to explain anything.  As usual,

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn declined to immediately comment on the lawsuit.

At least Stacey, unlike the players, is getting paid.

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26 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

26 responses to ““This is yet another danger to the current model of current athletics.”

  1. Dog in Fla

    In today’s episode of The Young and the Restless, Stacey continues to not comment, Matt Hayes gets the vapors and lobbyist Joe Barton counts his future love offerings before they get to Orrin Hatch

  2. Stacey ain’t no dummy. Although, she could use a makeover!

    • Dog in Fla

      I don’t know…

      Mark wouldn’t want anybody prettier than him

      which is why he had to caviar Julie Roe

  3. AusDawg85

    Not wanting to wait for Congress, the NCAA appeals directly to Sec of State John Kerry who explains to the kids/plaintiffs, “This is not how gentlemen act in the 21st century, by suing” then sails away on his surfboard to the Black Sea to promote a new condiment pipeline to the Crimea.

    (that’s about as DiF as I can get…)

  4. I honestly don’t see the antitrust angle to this. The members of the NCAA in its current form have agreed to a set of rules regarding amateur eligibility to participate in intercollegiate athletics. If the courts rule in favor of the plaintiffs, it’s the end of college sports as we know it. When all of this becomes taxable income to the player, I don’t want to hear them complain when the player doesn’t have the available funds to pay the IRS. When the whole darn system comes down as a result of all of this, I don’t want to hear the members of the equestrian team complain that they don’t have their scholarships anymore. When ticket prices and minimum donations go through the roof to pay for all of this, I don’t want to hear the people who have said this is the institutions’ problem complain that they can’t afford tickets.

    If a high school athlete doesn’t want to participate in intercollegiate athletics and abide by the rules of the NCAA, take your lawsuit to the professional leagues because that’s where the issue lies.

    • I honestly don’t see the antitrust angle to this. The members of the NCAA in its current form have agreed to a set of rules regarding amateur eligibility to participate in intercollegiate athletics.

      I don’t think the word “antitrust” means what you think it means. ;)

      • Senator, I’m sure I don’t – I’m not a lawyer, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night. ;)

        I guess I don’t understand the antitrust angle because the athletes are not employees of the university athletic association. There’s no taxable income derived from the transaction, so how can a lawyer with a straight face say that the institutions are colluding against the athletes?

        There’s no one that has the best interest of the student-athletes or the game at heart in this debate.

        • GaskillDawg

          The colleges are colluding by making an agreement among themselves that sets the price they pay for a factor of production. I last took an anti-trust class in 1978 at UGA law (Professor Ponsoldts’s first class at UGA, IIRC) so my memory may be faded and/or the law I remember outdated but I recall that agreements that restrict entry into the market by providers of factors of production or set by agreement what everyone in the market will pay for factors of production is a combination in restraint of trade. The liability issue would revolve around the “rule of reason.” If the combination was reasonable and necessary then that can be a defense.

          The Senator’s right. The NCAA probably figures the cost of going to congress and getting legislation exempting college sports from anti-trust laws has a much lower cost and risk than losing a suit.

    • Cosmic Dawg

      “Take your lawsuit to the professional leagues because that’s where the issue lies.”

      Agree for the most part – the pro leagues are the ones in cahoots with the govt to give the pro leagues a pass on what would be collusion (I believe) and price-fixing in any other industry.

      However, the colleges have conspired to restrict players from engaging in money-making activities OUTSIDE the “football club”. I don’t think there’s a damn thing wrong with Todd Gurley spending a Saturday in February signing autographs at the local Toyota dealership or even some 3rd stringer from waiting tables at a restaurant if he needs the money. I also don’t see anything particularly unamatuerish about UGA asking permission of Gurley to sell a jersey with his name and giving him a cut of the profits – those are “extra-sport” concession sales that, to me, should be fine. You also wonder if there might be some kids who DON’T go to college and play football or other sports on scholarship because there’s no option for them to get a job while they’re in school. I think it’s rotten.

      Letting the kids market themselves also solves another problem in that the school is trading a scholarship for athletic performance, period, but you still have a market mechanism that pays some players in lieu of them having available minor leagues. So neither the 3rd stringer on the football team nor the equestrians, who are apparently already happy to represent the school in exchange for a scholarship, get a cash stipend they don’t “earn” in the marketplace any more than the math whiz on scholarship. But they could at least go get a PT job if they had to.

      • As long as the pros incorporate their collusion into labor agreements, they’re exempt from antitrust complaints.

        That’s why you see the unions occasionally threaten to decertify.

        • Cosmic Dawg

          Unions are themselves a trust, of course – their goal is to literally “monopolize” or fix the price of a good – labor. Otherwise they wouldn’t have much of a function.

          But I think it’s particularly diabolical in the case of the pros, as they’re made up of players who have no need of (and may never have needed) minor leagues or developmental leagues (they’re already “in”) and so are hardly representative of the offended parties, here.

          In fact, it’s in the best interests of current players to reduce the options the sports watching public and younger players have of alternative games, right?

      • Cosmic, I totally agree with you regarding the use of their likeness, the ability to sell their personal property (rings, jerseys, etc.), and a stipend as part of a “full cost of attendance” scholarship. If all of that comes with full disclosure to the NCAA or another governing body, proper payment of taxes due (except for the stipend as part of the scholarship), and no use of trademarked materials (Gurley wearing a Georgia jersey on a car commercial), I don’t have one problem with that as part of the definition of amateurism.

        • GaskillDawg

          I understand your position about Gurley selling a picture of himself containing a trademarked item but how about the other direction; UGA selling a trademarked item with Gurley’s likeness without paying Gurley? I read your post to be that you are consistent; you would say that UGA should not be able to sell trademarked items containing Gurley’s likeness without compensating Gurley. If you agree both the trademark holder and the player should be paid then we se eye to eye.

          • If UGA sells a poster with Gurley’s picture or a #3 jersey with his name on it, the university should compensate the player for use of his name and likeness. If UGA sells a jersey with #3 but no name, I don’t think the school is obligated to young Mr. Gurley because they own the trademark on the jersey.

            In the case of appearing at an autograph signing or in a commercial, the player shouldn’t be able to wear the UGA trademarked items. I think that would give the appearance that the university set up the opportunity and would compromise eligibility under the rules.

            I think we agree on this.

        • Cosmic Dawg

          Interestingly, I don’t really support the stipend under any circumstances. Other students are contributing to UGA and not getting a special stipend. The equestrians are not making us enough money to warrant a stipend.

          My argument is, let the student athletes abide by the exact same rules and regs that other scholarship students are getting, save perhaps the amenities at BM (the law school has certain specialized amenities like its library, the biology dept has acres of land to experiment on, etc).

          You don’t need to grant the athletes anything special, just don’t penalize them! Let them do what all the other students are allowed to do – trade off their own labor or connections or marketability outside of school in whatever way they’re able. Let them work a PT job a couple months in the off season to have some pocket money for crying out loud.

          Also, I think it would be exceedingly ungraceful for UGA to not let players use the logo in pictures they’re autographing, just as I think it would be ungraceful for the players to demand payment if their face is on the cover of the football program. There is some live and let live required here, too. Do former UGA athletes get to use their football pictures to sell autographs? I bet they do.

          But the players would be free to license their likenesses and names to any official UGA merchandiser, and UGA would get whatever cut of that merchandise they think they deserve via the merchandiser.

      • Anthony

        I have no problem with the school either paying the entire cost including a stipend or selling their personal property. But selling jerseys, or autographs is a bad idea. The jersey does not belong to them. Todd Gurley’s number 3 does not belong to him or Paris Bostick and it didn’t belong to DJ Shockley either, nor the others that have worn it. In Georgia, it belongs to the school and the people of that State of Georgia that make the Georgia Bulldogs possible. For somebody to show up at a program for three to five years and then claim ownership of any piece of is absurd. If Todd Gurley had of signed with North Carolina or any other school that number three would still be there. It might only be worn on one side of the ball now but maybe not. The point is for anyone to lay claim to a piece of something that was there before they got there and will be there after they live is absurd. The best they should hope for is what they were promised when they signed their scholarship, and that they leave the place as good or better than they found it.

  5. GaskillDawg

    “But selling jerseys, or autographs is a bad idea. The jersey does not belong to them.” Why do autographs not belong to the player? Paris Bostock will always be Paris Bostock and will never be Todd Gurley so why can he not sell his autograph to whomever he wishes to? Who else has a claim to the signature of Paris Bostick but Paris Bostick?

  6. Anthony

    The autograph does belong to them. However, when they sign their letter of intent they agree to abide by NCAA rules, including forfeiting their right to sell it, among other things, in exchange for their free education and the exposure they receive from being at that given institution.