The NCAA is going back to court in Oakland, California -- to clarify two points in U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken's ruling.
Attorneys for the governing body filed a three-page legal brief
Monday in California, asking for clarification of which players will be
Wilken wrote Friday, in the landmark Ed O'Bannon case, that the
decision would apply to athletes who enroll in school after July 1,
2016, or the next recruiting cycle.
The NCAA claims the term "next recruiting cycle" could be ambiguous
and would like the court to establish a clearer date. NCAA attorneys
also wrote that its member schools want clearer language about who the
ruling actually applies to.
"Under existing NCAA rules, student-athletes in the next recruiting
cycle (i.e., student-athletes who would first enroll in college in Fall
2016) may receive offer letters from colleges starting on August 1,
2015. Bylaw 18.104.22.168. NCAA
seeks to confirm that the existing NCAA rules can remain in force until
August 1, 2015, although we understand the injunction would not permit
the NCAA to adopt or enforce rules inconsistent with the injunction on
or after that date," attorneys wrote in the filing, pointing out that is
the first day schools can offer scholarships to players in the 2016-17
On the second point, the NCAA contends, is Wilken's language
regarding the "licensing or use of prospective, current, or former
student-athletes" could be interpreted to apply to current players.
"This has prompted concerns among colleges and universities that the
injunction might, contrary to the Court's opinion, apply immediately to
current student-athletes," the attorneys wrote. "Based on the Court's
opinion, the NCAA believes the language of Paragraph 1 refers to
compensation only for student-athletes first enrolling after July 1,
2016. Otherwise the injunction would permit colleges and conferences to
compensate current student-athletes before the NCAA's member colleges
have an opportunity to consider new rules consistent with the
Attorneys wrote that they want the clarifications to ensure that
there are no violations of the permanent injunction Wilken imposed,
which allows players at big schools to have money generated by
television contracts put into a trust fund to pay them when they leave.
Wilken said the body that governs college athletics could set a cap on
the money paid to athletes, as long as it allows at least $5,000 per
athlete per year of competition. Individual schools could offer less
money, she said, but only if they don't unlawfully conspire among
themselves to set those amounts.
NCAA President Mark Emmert said Sunday that the governing body would appeal "at least in part" the ruling.
"We look forward to presenting our arguments on appeal, and in the
meantime we will continue to champion student-athlete success on the
field and in the classroom," NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said
in a statement released after Emmert's announcement.
Winning on appeal could be a major challenge given the venue, California.
Though the NCAA has a stronger historical record in appeals courts,
where a recent University of Illinois study found that it wins 71
percent of the time in both the second and third rounds of cases, this
would go to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Legal experts say
that court has generally been a "labor-friendly" court, which could hurt
the NCAA's chances of victory.