January 11, 2015

The O’Bannon decision is an important step forward for both college-athletes’ rights and sports law jurisprudence because it recognizes that NCAA rules limiting college-athlete pay may violate section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Nevertheless, the ruling’s impact is tempered by the iconoclastic nature of the court’s injunction, which limits the immediate potential for college-athlete compensation beyond a nominal amount. At the same time, the ruling seems to ignore the broader implications of NCAA restraints on third-party markets for licensing celebrities’ likenesses for endorsements—restraints that federal courts eventually must overturn.