The mainstream media (not us here at Duetsblog) has recently been reporting that, based on a ruling by United States District Court Judge Claudia Wilken from the Northern District of California, ”NCAA athletes can pursue TV money.” I clicked on and read this ESPN article with great anticipation as it would have been a watershed ruling in the ongoing battle between the NCAA and the current and former athletes who are largely exploited under the guise of “amateurism.” I have previously blogged on the topic of this exploitation in my NCAA-holes post. And for any number of articles decrying the “Myth of Amateurism” in the NCAA, check out this google search.
Unfortunately, the Order that was issued on January 29, 2013 was not particularly substantive. In fact, the judge made no rulings whatsoever on whether current and former athletes would ultimately be able to form a class for purposes of pursuing the TV revenue. Her ruling was simply denying a motion to strike the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, which is currently set to be heard on June 20, 2013. The January 29, 2013 Order may have been significant if it had been granted because it would have significantly undermined the plaintiffs’ case. However, a denial of a motion to strike like this registers as about a 0 on the interest scale.
Despite the relative disappointment provided by this particular order, the June 20, 2013 hearing and subsequent order will be significant events. If the Court does certify the plaintiffs as a class following that hearing, then its fair to say that the NCAA athletes will be in the position to pursue TV money. The stakes in such a pursuit are enormous. As documented by the website, CollegeSportsInfo.com, the major BCS conferences taken together apparently have television deals generating more than a billion dollars annually. Giving athletes a bite of this apple could significantly alter the collegiate sports landscape. I think many agree that altering the landscape would be for the best. For a detailed account of the problems and corruption that plague the NCAA, see this article by Taylor Branch.