The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday February 3rd

O'bannon case not to affect athletes this year

Ed O’Bannon brought the case in 2009 after EA Sports used him in a video game.

In August 2014, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled in favor of O’Bannon, allowing future trust funds to reimburse NCAA athletes for the use of their name, image or likeness.

Wilken also ruled in favor of allowing universities to pay their athletes up to $5,000 to compensate for the use of name, image and likeness.

Following the decision, the NCAA filed an appeal.

On Wednesday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Wilken’s ruling that the NCAA’s policy of banning the payment of student-athletes violated antitrust laws but repealed her decision allowing universities to pay students up to $5,000 as compensation.

Steve Kirschner, spokesperson for the athletic department at UNC, said the appellate court’s decision should not affect current student athletes at the University.

“The $5,000 for name, image and likeness was not supposed to go into effect until the 2016-17 season,” Kirschner said.

The O’Bannon decision, if upheld by the appellate court, would have allowed Division I universities to pay their athletes beyond the cost of attendance and would have allowed compensation to continue after the student-athlete’s eligibility expired.

Kirschner said UNC’s athletic department had no problem with the outcome.

“The $5,000 was sort of moving in the direction of pay-for-play; (Director of Athletics) Bubba Cunningham and the rest of the athletic department are not in favor of the pay-for-play model,” Kirschner said.

Barbara Osborne, adjunct professor of law, said she expected the ruling to deny payment to student-athletes.

“I was not surprised at all that they got rid of the $5,000 payment because there is absolutely no basis in law for that order that Judge Wilkens made at trial court level,” Osborne said.

“So the $5,000 was basically sort of the judge just exercising her own judgment and coming up with a random number that didn’t have any factual or evidentiary basis whatsoever.”

O’Bannon and his lawyers won the case, but the appellate court’s approval of the NCAA’s appeal alters the outcome for future student-athletes.

“Both sides are saying they won,” Osborne said. “Basically, any of those schools that said they were going to pay their student athletes or set up trust funds, none of those schools can do that, but all of those schools that said they would pay their athletes up to the cost of living can do that.”


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