A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday unanimously upheld a district judge’s ruling that the NCAA cannot limit education-related benefits that college athletes can receive.
In March 2019, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the NCAA had violated antitrust law and could not “limit compensation or benefits related to education” for athletes playing Division I men’s or women’s basketball or Bowl Subdivision football.
Among the items Wilken said those athletes may receive were scholarships to complete undergraduate or graduate degrees at any school. The judge also appeared to open the possibility of athletes being able to receive cash or cash-equivalent awards based on academics or graduation, albeit under some constraints.
However, the appellate panel of Sidney R. Thomas, Ronald M. Gould and Milan D. Smith Jr. declined to broaden the ruling, leaving intact the NCAA’s limits on compensation not connected to education.
The politicians are busy addressing those limits, but I digress.
The lawyers are taking another confirmation of the NCAA’s illegal cartel about the way you’d expect.
“It’s a great decision for us,” said Steve Berman, whose firm initially represented the primary named plaintiff in the case, former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston. “It opens the door for more challenges.”
… Jeff Kessler said: “It’s a great victory for the players. … This is a very strong decision for actions going forward.”
NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy issued a statement expressing the association’s disappointment with the ruling, but he did not immediately address an appeal to the Supreme Court.
“We hoped for a different legal conclusion by the Ninth Circuit,” Remy said. “We argued and believe the lower court’s ruling is inconsistent with both Supreme Court precedent and the Ninth Circuit’s own decision in the O’Bannon case. We will continue to review the opinion and determine our next steps.”
Back to Congress for that antitrust exemption, Donald.