As my diehard readers (maybe reader? Hi Mom! (Just kidding, I’m pretty sure even she doesn’t read these)) will remember, I blogged about pending litigation between former college athletes and the NCAA regarding whether players should be paid when the NCAA uses their likenesses in advertising, during television broadcasts, and in video games. The players propose a 50/50 revenue split, while the NCAA (of course) prefers the current 100-0 split in its favor. At first, the NCAA didn’t appear too concerned with the lawsuit, but now that its various attempts to kill the lawsuit on procedural grounds have failed, it’s safe to say that it and its allies are — in technical legal terms — beginning to freak out.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delaney, an honors graduate of the Chicken Little School of Public Affairs, recently filed a statement with the court claiming that the Big Ten teams will be forced to join Division III if the plaintiffs win. (Obligatory joke about Gopher athletics already being there omitted) The NCAA itself is ramping up its public relations campaign in the face of on-going criticism.
The next key hearing in the case occurs in June, when the court will hear arguments from each side regarding whether the lawsuit should proceed as a class action. As it stands, only a handful of ex-college players are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, but if their motion for class certification is granted, then that handful quickly turns into thousands and thousands of ex-players. In cases like this, class certification is often the thing that brings the larger entity to the bargaining table and leads to an eventual settlement. Although the NCAA has shown no desire to negotiate with the plaintiffs, expect that tune to change if the number of plaintiffs expands by a few thousand.
I side-stepped weighing in on this litigation in my last post, but I’ll go on the record now as hoping that the plaintiffs win. For the reasons outlined here, here, and here, college players deserve to reap some of the millions and millions of rewards that their schools and the NCAA are currently putting in their own pockets as a result of the players’ work.