NCAA Unhappy with O’Bannon Support in Antitrust Suit

Following the Ninth Circuit decision that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) violated antitrust laws by denying students compensation for the use of their likeness, the NCAA petitioned the Supreme Court to hear its appeal. In an unexpected turn of events in the O’Bannon v. NCAA lawsuit, the NCAA is arguing that O’Bannon is secretly in favor of the NCAA bid.

In the Ninth Circuit ruling, the court in essence maintained that student-athletes should be compensated for the use of their name and likeness. However, the court also held that athletes should not be awarded deferred licensing payments up to $5000, as was initially decided by the Northern District of California. The Ninth Circuit did suggest the students be compensated through scholarships. O’Bannon and other student-athletes wish to have the payments restored.

The athletes, in a May petition filed in opposition to the NCAA petition, argue that the question whether the NCAA violated the Sherman Act is “worthy of this court’s review” and request that the NCAA petition be granted on this issue. No such endorsement is afforded to the NCAA’s second question relating to whether or not the use of the athletes’ likeness in a video game falls under free speech.  However, in its reply brief, the NCAA claims that O’Bannon is “piggybacking” on its certiorari request and argues that O’Bannon is using this “ploy” because he realizes that his own petition is “unworthy of review.” The NCAA therefore urges the Supreme court to grant its own petition and deny the student-athletes’ requests.

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