The Big Leagues: NCAA Requests Extension to Appeal to SCOTUS Over Student-Athlete Compensation

On Thursday, March 3, 2016, the National Collegiate Athletic Association requested a 30-day extension to appeal from a Ninth Circuit ruling which held that the NCAA ban on compensation for the use of student athletes’ images and likenesses violated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

The litigation began in 2009 when former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon and former ASU and University of Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller filed separate lawsuits against the NCAA, Electronic Arts Inc., and Collegiate Licensing Co. The original lawsuits claimed in part that the companies misappropriated college athletes’ likenesses for financial gain via the sale of, among other things, jerseys, photographs, video games, and promotional material. Specifically, O’Bannon’s complaint alleged the following:

The NCAA has unreasonably and illegally restrained trade in order to commercially exploit former student-athletes previously subject to control, with such exploitation affecting those individuals well into their post-collegiate competition lives.

The NCAA, on the other hand, has argued that its prohibition against this type of student-athlete compensation exists because such compensation violates notions of “amateurism” that it claims should be the basis for collegiate sports. The NCAA website states that “The collegiate model of sports is centered on the fact that those who participate are students first and not professional athletes.” It is the NCAA’s general position that when a student-athlete receives compensation outside beyond scholarship, he or she becomes a professional athlete rather than amateur.

If the NCAA is granted an extension, it will have until April 14, 2016 to file a petition for a writ of certiorari. It is unclear at this time whether Plaintiffs will seek further review.

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