Digging into the federal court ruling on athletic scholarships

Not as big a win for the NCAA as I thought, and maybe not a win at all. The judge ruled that although college athletes can not be directly paid to play, schools can compete for recruits by inflating the value of a scholarship beyond the cost of attendance. If Bama comes up with a scholarship worth $100K a year for Johnny Runningback, Clemson can come back with a $150K package. And the NCAA can’t stop them. The NCAA can (and will) appeal, which will push things past the 90-day deadline specified in the ruling, so this will not take effect immediately, but it is likely to take effect. The precedent of the ruling in the O’Bannon case, and the fact that adding cost-of-attendance payments has not reduced fan interest, TV ratings or revenue, were cited in the opinion, and will make it harder for the NCAA to win the appeal.

Conferences would be able to set their own rules. The SEC, with lots of interest and lots of revenue, might well adopt different guidelines than the Pac-12, with much smaller stadiums and TV revenue, and certainly than leagues like the Sun Belt or MAC.

Here’s a look at why the NCAA lost:

<LINK_TEXT text=“https://www.si.com/college-football/201 … on-jenkins”>https://www.si.com/college-football/2019/03/08/ncaa-antitrust-lawsuit-claudia-wilken-alston-jenkins</LINK_TEXT>

And what is likely to happen next:

<LINK_TEXT text=“https://www.si.com/college-football/201 … holarships”>https://www.si.com/college-football/2019/03/08/ncaa-amateurism-antitrust-case-ruling-conference-scholarships</LINK_TEXT>

And future implications:

<LINK_TEXT text=“https://www.si.com/college-football/201 … holarships”>https://www.si.com/college-football/2019/03/08/ncaa-amateurism-antitrust-case-ruling-conference-scholarships</LINK_TEXT>

Obviously, schools and conferences with more money will be able to do more. They don’t have to, but they can, and might. As an SEC member, Arkansas may benefit relative to schools in other leagues, but as always, we’re dealing with Bama, LSU, Florida, etc., in our own league. This ruling does not take competitive balance into effect, nor should it. The judge found that the NCAA has unlawfully restrained the recruiting of athletes by limiting what they can be offered. Texas A&M apparently will try to offer Buzz Williams enough this offseason to pry him away from Virginia Tech, but it could not do the same with a star recruit it wants to get away from Texas.

Johnny Runningback wasn’t even that highly rated until after that Alabama offer. Just goes to show you how biased those recruit rankings are.