Is amateurism all or nothing?

Charlie Pierce has been covering the O’Bannon trial.  He may be on to a way to split the amateurism baby here:

… Heckman had just answered a question about the central issue of the case: whether NCAA athletes like the plaintiff, former UCLA All-American Ed O’Bannon, have signed away the rights to their names, images, and likenesses to the NCAA based on its purported code of amateurism, and whether, by enforcing that purported code — even after athletes’ eligibility has ended — the NCAA has been acting in restraint of trade and in violation of antitrust laws. Wilken was curious about one point.

“Are you saying,” she asked Heckman, skepticism edging every word like a razor, “that being paid for your name, image, and likeness is the same as being paid for the activity itself?”

I nearly sprained my neck. Jesus, I thought to myself, this thing may have been over for weeks.

If Wilken believes that payment for an athlete’s name, image, and likeness is something different from being paid simply for playing the game — that it constitutes something not in violation of the rules regarding amateurism, but rather something outside of them — then that’s the ballgame. Everybody can grab a beer and go home…

But separating payment for likeness from payment for activity would also give the NCAA a graceful way to accept defeat.  Assuming the presidents are in the mood to do any such accepting, of course.

Eh, forget I mentioned it.



Filed under The NCAA

16 responses to “Is amateurism all or nothing?

  1. Wow, yeah I see how they are separate concepts, yet they are so intertwined, can you separate them? Without the activity, there is no market for name/image/likeness. I don’t know how things like that are looked at from a legal sense, do you think that is a decision (if made) that would ultimately hold up in the inevitable appeals?


  2. I Wanna Red Cup

    Excellent article by Pierce. Can’t see how anyone can read that and still defend the NCAA on this.


  3. South FL Dawg

    Alright I’m not a lawyer but even if you can separate pay for play from pay from NIL, isn’t setting the pay for play at the value of a scholarship still a restraint of trade?


  4. Scorpio Jones, III

    So…how it has been is over, clearly.

    Get the Picture…it is Saturday afternoon in the fall of the year…leaves are turning, air is crisping and old men’s thoughts turn to football, college football, that is.

    What’s it gonna be like?

    General Motors brings you the Nike Georgia Bulldogs vs. The Addidas South Carolina Gamecocks from beautiful Life of Georgia Sanford Stadium…players in jerseys that look suspiciously like NASCAR race cars?

    Really, what’s it gonna be like?


    • DawgPhan

      I would imagine that if the NCAA loses and players are free to negotiate their own likeness rights everything starts over. The TV and radio deals get reworked and the conferences/schools find it much easier to deal with a players union instead of working 100’s of individual deals.

      I doubt anything on the field changes.


      • Bright Idea

        Wouldn’t a union of players want input into practice times and out of season training? Roster numbers? Number of games? Drug testing? Would that not change things on the field?


        • DawgPhan

          The future will change the things on the field. Change is coming, change is happening, change has happened.

          I dont think that we are going to see nascar style uniforms or naming rights for the teams sold any time soon.

          If you want to argue that drug testing changes the product on the field, have at it.


    • DDeutschland Domiciliary Dog

      Total Red Herring. The NCAA and its educational institutions could do that right now if they were of a mind.


  5. Rp

    I am starting to get more comfortable with the plaintiffs winning on most of the nil issues while avoiding the prospect of any direct payments from the NCAA or member institutions. I could live with that.


    • DawgPhan

      The NIL issues are still going to result in the school paying players…it will just be for likeness rights instead of playing. That is what the article is referring to. The judge seems to think that those 2 are different and separate and you can be paid for one and not impact the other. But CBS is going to pay the SEC, the SEC is going to pay UGA and UGA is going to pay Todd Gurley.


      • W Cobb Dawg

        Good point, and leads me to more questions. Does the school pay, or does the player get the checks directly from corporations, like Tiger, Jordan, Peyton, etc. do? And does that depend on whether the player is wearing the uniform or not? Is ‘marketing the likeness’ similar to what we see with pros?


        • DawgPhan

          Probably both.

          Schools are going to pay all players for their likeness for TV deals. Then Todd Gurley is going to be free to sign a endorsement deal with nike or subway. Just like the pro guys do now. Not everyone gets a big endorsement deal from nike, but everyone gets a game check.

          At least that is how I see it unfolding.