NCAA Under Pressure To Make Major Changes, Not Ready To Consider Paying Athletes
The NCAA is "facing the possibility of seismic change on multiple fronts that could reshape the world of college sports," according to Eder & Bishop of the N.Y. TIMES. A recent development in the O'Bannon case made paying college athletes, which "once seemed impossible, look more likely than ever." Separately, lawyers for the NCAA have "been in settlement talks to resolve claims by athletes that the organization was negligent in its handling of concussions." In their investigation of the Univ. of Miami for "major rules violations," it was revealed that NCAA officials "had used improper methods to obtain information, prompting more calls for changes." NCAA officials and their critics said that with "the three issues coming to a head at once -- along with a substantial behind-the-scenes debate about how the organization should be restructured -- a new era in college athletics could be imminent." NCAA President Mark Emmert said, "I don’t want to get melodramatic, but it seems to be a bit of a historic moment." Two days "have been set aside at the NCAA's annual convention" in January "to discuss changes." Among the matters up for discussion will be "whether universities with large and small budgets can coexist in the same division, a complex question at the heart of the future of college athletics." Short of "moving the so-called power conferences to a new division, one proposal would simply create different standards for them." Despite "fevered speculation" that the next generation of college athletes might be paid, NCAA officials, "at least publicly, maintain that they are not planning for that possibility." Still, some critics have said that the NCAA "is behind the times and that the notion of amateurism may have already slipped away" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/25).
QUICK LOOK: ESPN.com's Lester Munson reported a group of current and former college athletes are "now telling a federal judge that she need take only a 'quick look' at their lawsuit to conclude that they should all be paid." The assertion comes in a recently filed demand in the O'Bannon antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA for "an injunction that would bar the NCAA from enforcing its rule against paying student-athletes anything beyond their scholarships." The "quick look" idea enjoys a "historic place in the law that governs college sports." It was "critical to the triumph of major college football programs in the 1984 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma." The players who are now demanding payment for use of their names, images and likenesses are "relying both on the 'quick look' procedure and the substance of the ruling in the Board of Regents decision" (ESPN.com, 11/22).