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U.S. Supreme Court denies NCAA’s petitions in ruling in O’Bannon case

Ed O'Bannon Jr.

In this Sept. 18, 2010, photo, former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon Jr. sits in his office in Henderson, Nev. Sonny Vaccaro was in search of players who felt wronged when he teamed up with former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon in 2009 to file an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA over the commercial use of O’Bannon’s image. The suit scheduled for trial June 9 in Oakland, Calif., could not only force the NCAA to change the way it does business, but conceivably put it out of business.(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)


The NCAA’s appeal of the Ed O’Bannon case will not be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices rejected the appeal on Monday in the class-action lawsuit that was filed by the former UCLA star and other athletes.

Monday’s ruling also had the court rejecting O’Bannon’s separate appeal that wanted to reinstate the plan for schools to pay basketball and football players for the use of their names, images and likenesses.

The O’Bannon case rulings in lower courts found amateurism rules for big-time college sports like basketball and football violated federal antitrust law. The ruling also prohibited payments to student-athletes.

“The U.S. Supreme Court denied both the plaintiffs’ and NCAA’s request to clarify key issues of law affecting the NCAA and other similar organizations. In asking for the review, we hoped the court would take the opportunity to affirm its own 30-year precedent in the Board of Regents antitrust decision and support the appellate court’s now final endorsement of amateur college sports,” NCAA chief legal officer Donald Ramey said in a statement.

“While we are disappointed with this decision not to review this case, we remain pleased that the Ninth Circuit agreed with us that amateurism is an essential component of college sports and that NCAA members should not be forced by the courts to provide benefits untethered to education, including providing any payments beyond the full cost of attendance.

We continue to believe, and many other appellate courts have agreed, that the NCAA membership agreements to advance college sports are not violations of the antitrust laws. We will continue to strongly advance that legal position in other litigation. Further, the Court’s determination to not hear the case will not deter our members from continuing to provide students with academic opportunities, safeguarding their health and well-being and creating fair policies centered on the student-athlete experience.”

While this ruling is a positive for the NCAA in that they still don’t have to pay players, it does leave them susceptible to other potential lawsuits hurting them later on. The NCAA also has some time with these rulings to try to adjust the way things are done in college sports. It’ll be interesting to see if other cases continue to work through the courts, but it appears the O’Bannon case is done being in the headlines for a little while.