While college basketball fans gear up for this weekend’s Final Four in San Antonio, some potentially big off-court news dropped on Wednesday. The NCAA will be in court next December as part of a case challenging the limits placed on compensation received by college athletes.
U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken set the court date which will require the NCAA to defend their restrictions on athletes being able to receive only scholarships and the cost of attendance stipend. While the case is limited to football, men’s and women’s basketball athletes at FBS schools, the potential outcome could change college sports as we know it. Wilken is the same Judge who oversaw the Ed O’Bannon trial and her presence makes the plantiff’s lawyers feel good about their chances.
“We’d call this ruling a home run,” said Steve Berman, one of the lead plaintiffs’ attorneys. “We couldn’t have plotted it out better for us, frankly. … I absolutely think we are going to win this trial.”
Syracuse Orange fans won’t be disappointed if the NCAA loses a case, even if Athletic Director John Wildhack has concerns about the impact of increased compensation. Wildhack’s concerns are certainly valid for a private institution looking to compete against public schools with much larger student and alumni bases, but his latest comments also suggest a willingness to consider allowances for athletes to profit from use of their likeness.
It’s way too soon to suggest that NCAA athletics will become purely pay for play, but pay attention to this court case because it might lead to more significant changes in terms of how student athletes can benefit during their collegiate careers.
If changes do occur then some Syracuse athletes might find at least one willing business partner in the future...