Monday, July 27, 2009

The NCAA and Antitrust

from USA TODAY, July 27, 2009

The NCAA has a mixed record in antitrust cases such as the one former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon filed last week. Here's a look:

-- 1983: NCAA wins.

The Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women accused the NCAA of antitrust violations shortly after the NCAA began sponsoring women's sports. The AIAW contended that the NCAA wanted monopoly control over all college sports. A federal district court ruled for the NCAA.

Effect: The AIAW merged with the NCAA.

--1984: NCAA loses.

The Supreme Court ruled that the NCAA could not restrict teams' appearances on television.

Effect: An explosion of college football on television, with schools and conferences able to strike their own deals.

--1999: NCAA settles.

The NCAA paid a $54 million settlement to so-called "restricted earnings" assistant basketball coaches, whose compensation was limited by association rules.

Effect: Increased salaries. Whenever someone asks how $4 million salaries for football coaches fit into higher education, the answer involves an explanation that capping them is illegal.

--2004: NCAA wins.

A federal appeals court ruled that it was legal for the NCAA to limit schools' participation in basketball tournaments such as the Maui Invitational and the Great Alaska Shootout. Such "exempt" tournaments allowed schools to play multiple games that only count as one toward the NCAA maximum.

Effect: The NCAA eventually eliminated the restrictions on its own.

--2005: NCAA settles.

In the middle of a trial, the NCAA settled with organizers of the National Invitation Tournament, who said NCAA rules illegally blocked competition in postseason basketball by requiring invited teams to compete in the NCAA tournament.

Effect: The NCAA purchased the NIT as part of a $56.5 million settlement and paid additional money to the schools that organized the tournament.

--2007: NCAA settles.

A lawsuit brought by "walk-on" football players challenged the NCAA's limit of 85 scholarships for football teams, saying it restrained open competition.

Effect: Plaintiffs "walked away for an extremely small amount of money, so I consider it a win," NCAA general counsel Elsa Cole said.

--2008: NCAA settles.

The NCAA settled with a group of former players who contested rules limiting what a player's standard athletic scholarship, or "grant in aid," can include.

Effect: Rules on insurance for athletes were loosened, and a $10 million fund was set up for former players to use for education.

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