NCAA: Fans “Overwhelmingly Oppose” Paying Student-Athletes

On November 9, 2018, in their closing argument and brief, the NCAA defended its rules, restricting payments for student-athletes, arguing that NCAA fans value amateurism and “overwhelmingly oppose” paying student-athletes. The NCAA argued that the rules restricting student-athlete pay ensured that student-athletes were integrated into college campuses and, at the same time, promoting amateurism, which increases the demand for college sports. According to the NCAA, if the student-athletes were paid, fans would stop watching NCAA sports.

As we have continued to cover, the 10-day bench trial has been closely watched, with the results of the trial holding the power to fundamentally change the way NCAA sports are conducted. The student-athletes made a final push to seal the deal in their favor, arguing that the NCAA manipulated an overly broad definition of amateurism, and that the NCAA’s defense has only been supported by irrelevant lay-witness testimony. According to the NCAA’s brief, while the student-athletes argued that consumer demand for amateurism, and integration of academics and athletics are “economically invalid myths,” the student-athletes provided no data to support their “flawed proposition.” According to the NCAA, the student-athletes “simply have no basis in the record to dispute the fact that substantial consumer demand exists for amateurism in college sports.”

According to the NCAA, the idea that amateurism is a “myth” runs contrary to recent Supreme Court, Ninth Circuit, Seventh Circuit, Northern District of California, and several other federal court’s current case law. According to the NCAA, in seven separate holdings, the NCAA successfully demonstrated “that consumers value amateurism and that the challenged rules promote both amateurism and the integration of athletics and academics, as well as the integration of student-athletes into their college communities.”

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