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NCAA files motion for summary judgment

Today, the NCAA filed its motion for summary judgment in the student-athlete likeness case, urging the court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ case. The plaintiffs failed to identify any evidence that the NCAA’s rules violate the antitrust laws, and their demand for revenues from live broadcast licensing is preempted by the First Amendment right to televise newsworthy events.

The NCAA has presented evidence sufficient to dismiss the case, demonstrating that the NCAA’s rules are pro-competitive under the antitrust laws, because they are necessary to create the unique experience of Division I collegiate athletics.

As a part of this filing, the NCAA has included testimony from several leaders within its membership, including university presidents, athletic directors and expert witnesses. Each representative details how professionalizing a few current student-athletes would be to the detriment of all other student-athletes, as well as the fans and university communities. The main points of these statements include:

  • The college athletics model is essential to the integration of education and athletics;
  • The college athletics model supports the schools’ ability to offer women’s sports and non-revenue-generating men’s sports;
  • The majority of college athletics programs are not profitable, and the majority of all NCAA revenues are distributed back to schools in support of student-athletes and their athletic and educational resources;
  • The collegiate model maintains a competitive balance among schools and across conferences; and
  • NCAA rules are procompetitive, supporting increased output of football and men’s basketball games, as well as scholarships and viewers.

“After litigating this case for years, the facts are in and clear.  The evidence shows that the current collegiate model of athletics is a major reason why NCAA sports are popular, and thus provide the athletic and educational experience that so many student-athletes seek out.  The NCAA’s rules do not force athletes who wish to be professionals to enroll in school.  Instead, the plaintiffs seek to professionalize a few college athletes, which would lead to a reduction in athletic and educational opportunities for the vast majority of male and female student-athletes who pursue Division I, II and III athletics. The collegiate model of athletics is essential in reinforcing the integration of education and athletics and allows our colleges and universities to offer a wide array of non-revenue-generating men's and women's sports.” – Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer

 

Statements

Britton Banowsky, Conference USA commissioner

“The motivation for teams to recruit the best players in order to have the best competitive outcomes is great, which sometimes leads to improper payments to players and payments to people who are handling the players. Student-athletes are often misled by handlers and agents who do not have the best interests of the player at heart. I believe that it would be a mistake for higher education to go down a path where we are fostering even more of those corrupting influences. If compensation to players were permitted, it would not eliminate the risk of impermissible additional payments, but could well bring even more handlers, advisers, and influencers into the collegiate athletic space.”

Bob Bowlsby, Big 12 Conference commissioner

“Our member schools sponsor athletics programs as a way to promote the educational mission of each university — to promote the name on the front of the jersey, as opposed to promoting the names of individuals on the backs of the jerseys. That is what makes collegiate athletics distinct from other forms of athletics.”

Peter Ueberroth, former chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee

“Based on my extensive experience in the Olympic movement in the United States, including as a student-athlete who participated in the Olympic trials, reducing support for sports other than football and men’s basketball would severely damage American athletes’ ability to compete in the Olympic Games and could mean the death of the Olympic movement in the United States. This is because in many Olympic sports, the potential for American athletes to succeed at the Olympic level is dependent upon robust programs and support for student-athletes at colleges and universities. These sports include: swimming, track and field, men’s gymnastics, softball, soccer, rowing, field hockey, fencing, volleyball, water polo, and wrestling.”

Joseph Castiglione, University of Oklahoma athletics director

“Based on the more than thirty years I have spent working in intercollegiate athletics, universities' educational missions are not compatible with student-athletes receiving direct monetary compensation for appearing in games that may be broadcast. In my experience, if athletes were being paid a license fee or otherwise for their participation in televised games, the importance of the academic aspect of their university attendance would be diminished and they would be less likely to continue to accept the responsibility to engage in their role as students.”

Steve Patterson, The University of Texas at Austin men’s athletic director

"Based on my personal experience and personal observations, fans engage differently with college sports because of the emotional connection that they often have with the university. This emotional connection often arises because they attended the university; their kids, parents, or other family members attended the university; they met their spouse at the university; or they are otherwise a part of the community. The energy and loyalty created by fans’ emotional connection to the university, its core values, and its decades old traditions is unique to college sports. Compensating student athletes for the use of their name, image, and likeness would fundamentally change the relationship between fans, the institution, and the student athletes.”

Kenneth Star, Baylor University president

“[E]liminating NCAA amateurism rules will undermine these unique competitive products [like March Madness] as a result of the different decisions regarding payment that will be made by different schools and different conferences. It is also my opinion that, even for the schools that did decide to make payment to its student-athletes, there would be a wide variation of the amount and method of these payments which would ultimately result in a destruction of competitive balance among the paying schools. The inevitable result would be that schools that were able and willing to pay the most money would be able to recruit the best athletes, resulting in the strongest teams getting stronger and an erosion of fair competition.”

Judith Sweet, former athletics director of University of California, San Diego

“Football and men’s basketball players already receive disproportionate support from university athletic departments. To allow for the payment proposal set forth in Noll and Rascher’s reports and further compensate players in football and men’s basketball programs would create further disparity in those athletes, and it would come at the expense of the fifteen to twenty-five other teams on campus, many of which are comprised of women.”

John Swofford, Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner

“Based on my experience and observation as an athletics administrator and as a student-athlete, student-athletes across all sports work extremely hard to get the most out of their educational experience and our conference and member institutions consider it our responsibility to prepare all of these young men and women for future success in their careers, in their relationships and in their communities. That is why we spend enormous amounts of time and money to give all of these student-athletes the best possible resources, facilities and advice.”

Timothy White, California State University chancellor

“Paying student-athletes would destroy the collegiate model of college athletics which would be a serious mistake for students, universities and colleges and the communities they serve. The American collegiate athletic model is grounded in the principle of amateurism…paying student athletes, or even promising to pay student athletes after graduation….is entirely contrary to the model that serves America best.”