By Michael A. Carrier (Rutgers Law School)
In the second direct challenge to the NCAA’s amateurism rules, the Northern District of California court rejected an attempt by the NCAA and 11 conferences to dismiss claims that defendants violated antitrust law by “conspiring to impose an artificial ceiling on the scholarships and benefits that student-athletes may receive as payment for their athletic services.”
This short piece shows how the court paved the way for a second trial taking aim at the NCAA’s amateurism rules. The court denied defendants’ motions for summary judgment on the grounds of (1) res judicata and collateral estoppel; (2) stare decisis that, as a matter of law, would have credited the procompetitive benefits recognized in the earlier case brought by Ed O’Bannon; and (3) O’Bannon’s preclusion of consideration of the plaintiffs’ less restrictive alternatives. The piece concludes by emphasizing how this case could lead to even more far-reaching effects than the O’Bannon case.