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In California v. the NCAA, Root–Grudgingly–for the NCAA

September 11, 2019 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

Higher education financing is maddeningly complex—state subsidies to schools, federal grants to students, for-profit schools, “nonprofit” institutions, student loans, seemingly limitless ways to handle loan repayments—and in the grand scheme of things whether college athletes can get paid beyond “educational expenses” is a pretty minor thing. Of course, it isn’t that minor if you are an athlete, or even if you were one of millions of people who loved playing college sports video games, which met their demise in part due to legal battles over compensating college players. (I bought my first ever sports video game—NBA2K17—because it had a small mode letting me play a few tilts as my beloved Georgetown Hoyas.) All of this is why legislation likely to be enacted in California, the Fair Pay to Play Act, is making big noise, threatening to pit our largest state against arguably the country’s biggest sports power: the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA.

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Who am I rooting for in this potentially monumental clash? Much though it pains me, the NCAA.

California’s legislation, which is likely to be signed by Governor Gavin Newsom (D), is intended to allow college athletes to benefit from their name, image, or likeness being used by others for profit. You may be familiar with the O’Bannon case, a lawsuit brought by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’ Bannon against the NCAA, video game maker Electronic Arts (EA), and the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC). O’Bannon and other athletes sought compensation for the use of their likenesses, including in E’s NCAA College Basketball series. EA and CLC settled with the plaintiffs, and the NCAA lost in court at first, but prevailed against non-educational compensation on appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, letting the no-compensation rule remain.

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I’m no fan of the NCAA, with its slick marketing emphasizing the “student” in “student athlete” while raking in over $1 billion, much of which goes …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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