With no ruling yet from the Ninth Circuit in the landmark O’Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Association case, the NCAA on Friday asked to stay the injunction that would allow schools to begin offering football and men’s basketball players as much as $5,000 per year to compensate student-athletes for use of their names, images, and likenesses. The injunction, which was entered by Judge Claudia Wilken in August of 2014, would take effect on August 1, 2015—the date on which offer letters can first be sent to student-athletes enrolling in college after July 1, 2016.
The NCAA’s appeal of Judge Wilken’s injunction and the underlying ruling—in which she found that NCAA rules that prohibited basketball and football players from receiving more than the value of a full grant-in-aid scholarship constituted an unreasonable restraint of trade—is pending in the Ninth Circuit, which heard oral argument on March 17 but has yet to make a ruling. In a statement, the NCAA’s chief legal officer Donald Remy said: “We have long maintained a stay would be necessary if a decision was not announced in a reasonable amount of time before the injunction becomes effective on Aug. 1. Since the injunction was ordered, the NCAA member schools have been working to understand the complexities of the injunction and the challenges related to its potential implementation. As we have stated throughout the appeals process, implementation of the injunction will have severe consequences for NCAA members and college sports. The consequences will be irreparable if implementation occurs before the 9th Circuit rules on the legal issues in question.”
According to reports, the NCAA argued it will be irreparably harmed if the injunction takes effect as scheduled because it would “fundamentally alter” how student-athletes are recruited, may result in the NCAA cutting participation opportunities, and “force the NCAA and schools to devote substantial resources to overcoming an array of complex legal problems created by the injunction.” We outlined some of those problems in our last post. The O’Bannon plaintiffs/appellees have 10 days to oppose the NCAA’s request, unless the court shortens the response time or lets the parties know it intends to act sooner.