O’Bannon a Trendsetter for the NCAA

The recent policy analysis I completed in SPMA 4P91 was based on amateurism, impermissible benefits and athlete compensation in the NCAA. So it was fitting to come across this news article and compare it to some of the points made in my paper.

First off, Ed O’Bannon is a trend setter. The former UCLA basketball player is (from what I can tell) not doing this just for his own monetary gain, but rather for all NCAA athletes previously affected and to protect all future NCAA athletes. O’Bannon is currently on a path to sue the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Agency for using his likeness and profiting off of it, a suit that is now 4 years in the making. As you may or may not know, NCAA athletes are compensated through athletic scholarships ranging from partial to full, and are not given any cash outside of educational costs. With that, in line with the concept of amateurism, NCAA athletes are not permitted to accept gifts, money or anything that other students do not have access to.

The issue here is that the NCAA makes billions of dollars each year through ticket sales, merchandise, media deals and advertising, among other revenue streams. All these forms of revenue are based of the consumption of NCAA student-athletes participation, yet NCAA athletes see no piece of the pie.

O’Bannon saw great issue with this concept, and decided to file a lawsuit on behalf of former, current and future NCAA athletes. His claim to file this suit as class action was turned down, but he and 15 others continue to pursue there claims, and seek financial compensation, but more importantly seek a judges ruling that the NCAA must share the profits they make from student-athletes with them.

There are two sides to this argument. On one end, it must be remembered that many of these student-athletes are receiving free educations that can sometimes be in the $50,000 range at very prestigious institutions, and many feel this is sufficient. But on the other hand, the amount of money the NCAA is insurmountable compared to how much they spend.

I would be easy to ask whether you not you think NCAA athletes should be compensated, but opinions on that are very black and white. My question is whether or not you think O’Bannon’s suit is warranted? Do you think it should be legal action that causes the NCAA to reform its policies, or should its governance be remodelled to help with this change? And also, if O’Bannon were to be successful, how do you suggest they compensate these student-athletes?


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