The lawsuit led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon is the legal matter that has received the majority of the attention when it comes to the NCAA, but there are other cases to keep track of at present time. Two of those lawsuits focus on the NCAA’s scholarship rules, with one challenging the NCAA’s right to limit the value of athletic scholarships and the other focusing on the NCAA capping the value of those scholarships at a value below what’s listed as the full cost of attendance for universities.
Earlier this month the NCAA cited Judge Claudia Wilken’s ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in the O’Bannon suit as a reason why the lawsuits filed with regards to the value of athletic scholarships should be dismissed. Obviously those arguing otherwise don’t agree with that line of thinking, and according to Steve Berkowitz of USA Today the plaintiffs are fighting the NCAA’s assertion.
Either of the suits could eliminate compensation limits in some sports. One of them seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in damages based on the difference in the value of the NCAA’s current definition of a scholarship — basically tuition, fees, room, board and books — and the actual cost of attending college.
Both suits, which began in March, are seeking to become class actions. One of the cases originated in Northern California, the other in New Jersey. In June, a panel of judges that deals with similar federal lawsuits filed in different parts of the country assigned coordinated or consolidated pretrial matters in both cases to U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken — the Oakland-based jurist who handled the O’Bannon case.
According to the report the NCAA has stated that Wilken’s ruling in the O’Bannon suit allows them to place a cap on the value of athletic scholarships, with the plaintiffs believing that the ruling should not impact their cases. Also of note in regards to all of this is the increasing pressure coming from some United States senators, who are none too pleased with the progress (or lack thereof) being made by the powers that be in collegiate athletics.
According to Jon Solomon of CBS Sports three United States senators sent letters to the 65 Division I presidents whose schools are in the “Power Five” conferences expressing their concerns about a variety of topics including scholarships and health issues.
Because the five major conferences now have autonomy to create their own rules, “you now possess the authority” to create reform in college sports, the senators wrote to the university presidents.
“As such, we intend to monitor your progress to see whether the very schools and conferences that are often blamed for much of the problems plaguing intercollegiate athletics today effectively utilize the new flexibility you have been granted to implement meaningful reforms to better protect student-athletes,” the letter states.
It’s bad enough for the NCAA to have the courts involved in their affairs. And if the government decides that there hasn’t been enough progress made, could they get involved as well? That wouldn’t be a good thing for the folks running the show in collegiate athletics.