T his summer was abuzz with concerns about the viability of the current understanding of a student-athlete. It began with the Northwestern football’s team appeal to the National Labor Relation Board to unionize. It later culminated when, in a landmark decision, District Court Judge Claudia Wilken found for a class headed by former college basketball player Ed O’Bannon in a lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Judge Wilken held that the NCAA’s limits on what benefits major college basketball and football players can receive constitute an unreasonable restraint on trade in violation of antitrust laws. The ruling would place a permanent injunction on the NCAA starting in August of 2015 and force the NCAA to share certain types of revenues with student-athletes. Recently, both the NCAA and the O’Bannon plaintiffs submitted a joint motion to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to expedite the process for oral argument. If the Ninth Circuit denies the motion, oral argument and a decision by the Court are not likely to occur before the injunction would begin. This would force the NCAA to prepare for major structural changes to the organization’s policy regarding benefits afforded to student-athletes. For more information please refer to the USA Today.
Jason Fixelle is a current student at Harvard Law School (Class of 2016).