And, yeah, it’s a pretty big deal.
An appellate court granted a stay on Friday of a federal judge’s ruling last year that N.C.A.A. rules preventing athletes from making money from college sports broadcasts and video games violated antitrust law.
The stay, in the so-called O’Bannon case, is at least a temporary reprieve for the N.C.A.A. and its decades-old rules barring payments to athletes. Without it, the association would have faced a new reality on Saturday in which colleges theoretically could have offered recruits unregulated money, or the association could have set a cap on such compensation.
There is no timetable for a ruling from the appellate court, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, but the judges specifically noted that the stay was not an indication of how they might ultimately decide the case.
Eh, maybe not, but it’s a decent indication that Judge Wilken’s ruling may not stand in its entirety.
Michael Hausfeld, a lawyer representing a class of current and former basketball and football players against the N.C.A.A. and its member institutions, had hoped for a different outcome, one that would have allowed colleges to compensate players immediately.
“I’m disappointed,” he said. “I would have liked to see a decision. Now we’ll wait some more.”
The sides argued the case in March in front of the Ninth Circuit, with the N.C.A.A. contending that a ruling for the players would professionalize its amateur athletes and hurt its business model. The association requested the stay this month.
“It’s hard to imagine a situation where they grant the stay and then affirm the ruling,” Hausfeld said in a recent interview, although on Friday he added, “A decision is still coming, and this is not the end.”
Indeed, the stay could mean the court is trying to reach consensus or work through complicated issues.
“If anything, the stay is a recognition of the complexity of the case and unscrambling the egg if the schools are allowed to offer the money,” said Gabe Feldman, the director of the sports law program at the Tulane University Law School.
The odds on this case going to the Supreme Court have become a lot more likely.