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Supreme Court Declining Ed O’Bannon Case Continues Struggle for College Athletes’ Rights

Article by Michael Grant with The Come Back

For now, the status quo remains on the vague definition of amateurism and the question of whether or not athletes are fairly compensated. That’s the message the Supreme Court sent when it declined to hear the Ed O’Bannon antitrust case against the NCAA.

This could have been the start to a landmark moment — a time for real substantive change. O’Bannon is crusading to become a transformative figure, not unlike Curt Flood. Flood lost his Supreme Court case to Major League Baseball, but at least this country’s highest court heard him.

The case created ripples that eventually led to the abolishment of the reserve clause and ushered in a new era of free agency.

According to the Supreme Court’s website, it receives approximately 7,000-8,000 petitions per term. It only hears oral arguments in about 80 cases. So even getting the court’s attention can be a Hail Mary. In turning down this case, that means the struggle continues for college athletes.

Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 2014 ruling that college athletes could receive up to $5,000 in deferred compensation for use of their likenesses. It, however, did uphold that the NCAA had violated antitrust law. The NCAA in turn has responded by increasing the amount of money athletes can receive such as “cost of attendance.”

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