For now, NCAA athletes won't receive deferred compensation for use of their names, images and likenesses.
And while the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling Wednesday that the NCAA has violated antitrust law by limiting compensation to student-athletes, it reversed a district judge's ruling that would have opened the door for NIL (name, image, likeness) payments. And that amounted to a victory of sorts for the NCAA in the case brought by former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon.
"The difference between offering student-athletes education-related compensation and offering them cash sums untethered to educational expenses is not minor; it is a quantum leap," Judge Jay Bybee wrote in the three-judge panel's majority opinion, according to the Associated Press. "Once that line is crossed, we see no basis for returning to a rule of amateurism and no defined stopping point."
That's exactly what NCAA President Mark Emmert wanted to hear.
"We have not completely reviewed the court's 78-page decision, but we agree with the court that the injunction 'allowing students to be paid cash compensation of up to $5,000 per year was erroneous,'" Emmert said in a statement. "Since Aug. 1, the NCAA has allowed member schools to provide up to full cost of attendance; however, we disagree that it should be mandated by the courts."
The basis of O'Bannon's case was that NCAA policy unjustly allowed it to gather commercial profit from the names, images and likenesses of student-athletes without compensation. The NCAA's argument maintained that such payments would destroy the concept of amateurism in college sports.
The NCAA faces other legal challenges where compensation to student-athletes is concerned. Beginning this year, schools are providing cost-of-attendance stipends above standard scholarships to student-athletes that range upwards of $5,000 or more per year, varying by school.