Will court ruling hurt universities?

Appeals court rules in favor of NCAA

Kyle McDonald | Sports editor | @kylesportsbias

UVU Review head shots on the Wasatch Campus of Utah Valley University in Heber City, Utah, Friday August 7, 2015. (August Miller, UVU Marketing)

On September 30, the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals ruled that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) may restrict colleges from compensating athletes beyond the cost of attendance.  The ruling threw out a federal judge finding last year that the NCAA’s rules have been too restrictive in regards to maintaining amateurism.  This judge proposed that the NCAA allows universities to pay athletes up to $5,000 a year in compensation towards the cost of attendance.

It struck a blow to those former student-athletes that are seeking to get compensated for their likenesses being used in television broadcasts and video games.  But will it hurt a school’s athletic programs if they aren’t able to pay athletes any more money for cost of attendance?

Let’s look at it from a different perspective.  You already have the ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC, and Pac-12 conferences that consider themselves Power Five Conferences.  Then you have all the smaller conferences like the WAC, Mountain West, American Athletic, Big East, Conference USA, Mid-American, Sun Belt, and FBS Independents.  Some schools in the smaller conferences have begun to pay their athletes.  BYU has implemented a plan where they will pay their student-athletes $3,500 for cost of attendance.  Utah State just got $1.5 million from the Utah State Legislature to pay their athletes.  The list goes on and on.  Is it fair for these schools that have financial backing to pay their athletes when other schools such as Utah Valley and other Western Athletic Conference schools do not?

The ruling by the appeals court may hurt the bigger schools because now student-athletes may choose to go somewhere else.  Now recruiters won’t be able to say “we can offer you this amount of money to come play for us.”  The appeals court has made it so that college sports can slow down and become more about the student-athletes than about which school has the most money and which conferences are the most powerful.

Not many people like what is going on right now in college athletics.  The astronomical amounts of money that are spent on building new facilities, television broadcast rights, and apparel are getting out of hand.  Some schools have better facilities than some professional teams.  Look at The Big House on the campus of the University of Michigan that seats over 100,000 people.  Bryant-Denny Stadium at the University of Alabama is another example.  Rupp Arena where the University of Kentucky plays basketball rivals most NBA arenas.

The ruling by the court may put a hindrance on that in the future.  It might bring some schools back down to earth.  It might bring even more parity into the world of collegiate athletics.

There will be more appeals that go on and more fighting in the courts.  However, it is the hope of this writer that judges continue to agree with the Ninth Circuit Court and allow the NCAA to restrict schools from paying their student-athletes so that collegiate athletics keeps an amateur status.

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