Many of us subscribe to the need for reform in various areas of the NCAA’s management of student-athletes (SAs). The White v NCAA settlement a year ago was a strategic maneuver that provided for more funds to be disbursed to SAs, with the important inclusion of the opportunity, not mandate, to afford SAs Comprehensive Health Insurance, the same that we as Faculty receive by our employers.
It is true that during the present NCAA administration a more flexible, responsive, and preemptive approach to policy and litigation management has been initiated. The past few settlements have been received with criticism, arguing that the member institutions will bear the financial burden in years to come. Fair criticism has also been targeting the dangerous prospects of what some of these settlements and certain policy amendments could mean for possible future decisions in appellate courts. This concern is especially true pertaining to amateurism deregulation and commercialization, allowing for institutions to compete for more revenue. No one can deny, however, that these settlements made sense, avoiding any unforeseen mishaps in this nation’s Halls of Justice.
Let’s talk about the latter for a minute as Oliver v NCAA is rather problematic (the full opinion is embedded below this post).
Reform in intercollegiate athletics, when coming from the US system of Jurisprudence, should be founded on solid theory, convincing arguments, and research that regardless of constituents’ predispositions would make legal sense and would be respected for intellectual quality and practical clarity. We all have in our minds judges’ decisions that really shaped the way we look at things in legal, policy, socioeconomic, and political sense. What do you remember about such decisions that gave you goosebumps? This Ohio Ct. decision by Judge Tone probably fails in most aspects important and well cited decisions were able to muster.
As this decision is considered and the appeals prepared, the Amateurism Cabinet and various Committees in the new governance structure of the Association are figuring out ways to come up with either de-regulation, or legislative amendments that preemptively treat many of the cases US Courts or ADR bodies within the NCAA would hear. Regardless of recent settlements, I strongly believe the NCAA has every right and the duty to appeal, and appeal again, preserving amateurism, per President Brand’s recent State of the Association article. Here’s why, very briefly: