Just When You Thought It Was Over: 9th Circuit Seeks More Information from Athletes and NCAA

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Previously, it was reported that U.S. District Court Judge for the Northern District of California, Claudia Wilken, handed a limited win to college athletes in the Shawne Alston, et al v. NCAA, et al case. Judge Wilken ruled that the NCAA cannot limit compensation or benefits “related to education.”

However, the plaintiffs were seeking to invalidate caps on all forms of compensation. In their quest, they appealed Judge Wilken’s ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. On Jan. 6, 2020, the hearing panel for the Ninth Circuit ordered the NCAA and athletes to submit briefs outlining the effect that California’s Fair Pay to Play Act has on the litigation. On Sept. 30, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act, which will provide student-athletes the opportunity to earn compensation from the use of their name, image and likeness.

The law is set to take effect January 2023 and will apply to all colleges and universities within the state of California. In addition, the NCAA’s Board of Governors decided to explore rule changes that will allow student-athletes an opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness. Yet, the rule changes will not be revised until January 2021 and  must conform to the collegiate model of amateurism.

It was previously reported that NCAA President, Mark Emmert, stated the rule changes may be constrained by the O’Bannon and Altson rulings. Those rulings focused only on whether the NCAA rules violated anti-trust laws. In addition, the Alston ruling permits student-athletes to receive grant-in-aid that exceeds current NCAA caps as long as the costs are tethered to education-related expenses.

Now, the panel assigned to adjudicate the grant-in-aid cases are asking the NCAA and athletes to submit briefs detailing how the Fair Pay to Play Act will affect each party. Briefs are due to the court by February 19, 2020.