NCAA Athlete Compensation: Student-Athletes File Petition for Rehearing

On Wednesday, October 14, 2015,  former student-athletes filed a petition with the Ninth Circuit for a rehearing en banc on its decision to uphold the rule that NCAA athletes do not need to be compensated beyond the cost of attending college.

The federal trial court originally held that: (1) universities may grant to student athletes the full cost of attendance; and (2) universities may allow student athletes to receive up to $5,000 per year as compensation for the use of their names and likenesses. On September 30, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the determination that students may be granted the full cost of attendance, but overturned the ruling granting additional compensation. The Ninth Circuit opined that: “in finding that paying students cash compensation would promote amateurism as effectively as not paying them, the district court ignored that not paying student-athletes is precisely what makes them amateurs.”

The decision was not unanimous, however, as Chief Justice Thomas filed a separate opinion questioning the majority’s reasoning. The plaintiff student-athletes are now urging the entire Ninth Circuit to rehear the decision, relying heavily on Chief Justice Thomas’ opinion. According to their petition, the student-athletes argue that “[t]he majority erroneously treated amateurism as an all-or-nothing proposition” and that “consumer interest in college sports is driven almost entirely by school loyalty and geography—and not by the restraint.”

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