The Plaintiffs in O’Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Association case filed their opposition on Monday to the NCAA’s request to stay the injunction that on Saturday would allow schools to begin offering football and men’s basketball players as much as $5,000 per year to compensate them for use of their names, images, and likenesses. On Tuesday, the NCAA quickly filed a reply in support of its position.
Not unexpectedly, the Plaintiffs rejected the NCAA’s argument that it will be irreparably harmed if the injunction takes effect, arguing the injunction does not require the NCAA to take any particular action and instead “merely forbids the continuation of its unlawful anticompetitive agreement.” The Plaintiffs further asserted: “The simple fact is that no member school needs to change a thing under the injunction if it does not wish to do so. If the NCAA is correct, and modest compensation to college athletes is truly so thorny, no member school will choose to offer it after Aug. 1, 2015.”
August 1 is the first date offer letters can be sent to student-athletes enrolling in college after July 1, 2016, and is the first time schools could offer a recruit deferred compensation as part of a financial aid package. But that date may be illusory given recruits cannot sign a written offer until the National Letter-of-Intent signing period, that does not begin in basketball and other sports until November 11. Without a ruling on the injunction, schools could simply wait to send out written offers or make such offers contingent on the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.
The Plaintiffs wrote that, “under the injunction, member schools that have the resources and desire to offer more as part of their recruiting package will do so, unilaterally. That they might wish to avoid this sort of competition and those financial resources for other purposes is not a reason for a stay.”
In response, the NCAA stated that the Plaintiffs “primarily just belittle and demonize the NCAA” and that the Ninth Circuit should maintain the status quo “until this Court can decide whether the dramatic changes that the district court’s unprecedented injunction would engender are in fact supported by the law.