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Supreme Court’s O’Bannon Ruling Another Step Toward Changing How College Athletes are Compensated, UB Sports Law Expert Says

Article by Charles Anzalone on University at Buffalo

This week’s U.S. Supreme Court decision not to hear appeals in the O’Bannon v. NCAA case concerning the treatment of college athletes is another sign the NCAA must abide by federal anti-trust laws when implementing rules about the ability of athletes to earn compensation, a University at Buffalo School of Law expert said today.

“The ultimate outcome of the battle remains in doubt,” says Nellie Drew, an adjunct professor who teaches sports law courses in UB’s School of Law and has been quoted extensively both locally and nationally on sports law issues including the amateur status of college athletes and domestic violence in the NFL.

“However, for the first time it is clear that the NCAA’s regulation of amateur athletes is subject to anti-trust scrutiny,” Drew says. “This means that the NCAA rules prohibiting college athletes from receiving compensation – which are at issue in two cases currently pending in the 9th Circuit, the same Circuit in which O’Bannon was decided – are now suspect as well.”

At issue is O’Bannon v. NCAA, a case that came to the U.S. Supreme Court from a 2009 lawsuit filed by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon, who sued to recover revenue received by the NCAA from the use of college athletes’ names, images and likenesses. Drew said the ruling issued by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals included a ruling that was “unprecedented in NCAA litigation history.”

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