May 2, 2018
In an article published on Tuesday, May 1, 2018, by Law360, Boston partner Jay Fee discusses his reaction to the report released by the NCAA’s Commission on College Basketball chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The so-called “Rice Commission” issued a report that outlined the need for several substantive changes to both college basketball and non-scholastic basketball programs and tournaments (also known as AAU basketball).
While the Rice Commission called upon basketball’s various stakeholders such as the NCAA, the NBA, and the National Basketball Players’ Association to effect changes related to stiffening penalties for NCAA infractions, granting student-athletes greater access to certified player agents, and the elimination of the NBA draft eligibility rule known as “one and done,” the Commission failed to recommend anything that would lead to any form of compensation for college basketball players that would be a clear departure from the ideals of amateurism, which the NCAA zealously defended in the case of O’Bannon v. NCAA.
Fee explains, “I don’t think paying college players strictly for their performance in college basketball is something that would ever be recommended or implemented willingly by the NCAA.” While Fee remains neutral on the issue, he does anticipate risks for the NCAA should it stay completely opposed to any form of compensation for college athletes, even with respect to compensating student athletes for use of their name, image, and likeness. Fee expects pressure to continue to build and suggests the NCAA would be best served by a proactive approach to returns that truly benefit student athletes. “I don’t think it’s in anyone’s interest to have a federal court deciding how college sports ought to be administered and played,” Fee states. “But with lawsuits like Jenkins still pending, that’s a very real possibility.”
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