So yesterday, the NCAA took the position that since it’s possible another organization could choose to pay college players, there’s no antitrust problem. No, really.
NCAA economic expert Lauren Stiroh testified that if, as the plaintiffs allege, college athletes are meaningfully restricted under antitrust law from being paid for their names, images and likenesses, universities outside the NCAA would be attempting to “fill in the gap” by paying players.
“So some rival NCAA would try to round up other schools not in the NCAA?” U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken asked, sounding skeptical.
Stiroh explained that numerous college athletic associations could pay players, starting with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Since O’Bannon economic expert Roger Noll previously said the NCAA doesn’t compete with these associations, the market should correct itself if there’s an NCAA restriction based on antitrust analysis, Stiroh said.
… Grand View University in Iowa, the NAIA football champion last season, reported athletic department revenue of $6.3 million in 2012-13. Florida State, the national champion in major college football, listed its revenue at $89.1 million.
NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said it’s not a question of whether the NAIA or others have the finances to be competitive. Rather, Remy said, Stiroh’s point is that within the context of antitrust analysis, other organizations that don’t have the NCAA’s alleged restraints could compete in that space by paying players. Remy cited as an example the USFL’s entry into professional football to compete with the NFL.
“There’s no restraint on the rest of the world from developing the product that the plaintiffs’ lawyers want and competing against the collegiate model of athletics that the NCAA has had for 100 years, and say ours is better,” Remy said.
You can stop chuckling any time now. Since we’re engaging in hypothetical possibilities, here’s mine for the day – let’s say that a number of NAIA teams with wealthy alums/boosters wake up one day and decide to take Remy up on his invitation, and let’s say further it turns out they’re wildly successful channeling Donald Trump hiring Herschel Walker so that both elite recruits sign with and established D-1 players transfer to NAIA programs. What kind of song would you expect to hear Remy’s constituents warbling then?