Judge Rules Against NCAA in Key Antitrust Case

[Updated (8/8/2014, 7:50 p.m.) to include the NCAA's statement.]

A federal judge in California ruled on Friday that NCAA rules barring college athletes from sharing in the revenues produced by the use of their names and likenesses violate antitrust law, handing the plaintiffs a key win in a case that has threatened to upend the association’s principles of amateurism, CBS Sports reported.

For a short analysis of why the NCAA lost and what the decision means, see this Chronicle post.

In a 99-page ruling, Judge Claudia Wilken, of the U.S. District Court in Oakland, issued an injunction that will “enjoin the NCAA from enforcing any rules or bylaws that would prohibit its member schools and conferences from offering their FBS football or Division I basketball recruits a limited share of the revenues generated from the use of their names, images, and likenesses in addition to a full grant-in-aid.”

Judge Wilken said the injunction will not bar the NCAA from capping the amount of compensation that athletes can receive while they are enrolled, but said the NCAA will not be allowed to set that cap below the cost of attendance.

Some legal observers have said, however, that the NCAA’s chances to prevail may improve in an expected appeal of the case, which was brought by Ed O’Bannon, a former star basketball player at UCLA, and other plaintiffs.

“We disagree with the court’s decision that NCAA rules violate antitrust laws,” said Donald Remy, the association’s chief legal officer, in a written statement. “We note that the court’s decision sets limits on compensation, but are reviewing the full decision and will provide further comment later. As evidenced by yesterday’s Board of Directors action, the NCAA is committed to fully supporting student-athletes.”

The judge’s ruling comes one day after the NCAA approved governance changes that will give its five most-powerful conferences more autonomy to set their own rules. Those conferences have said that the move will allow them to better help college athletes, although critics have said that the changes will widen the divide between the wealthiest programs and others.

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