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The Potential Unintended Consequences of the O’Bannon Decision

Washington and Lee Law Review Online, Vol. 71, p. 203 (2014)

Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 15-01

13 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2015  

Matthew J. Parlow

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law

Date Written: January 13, 2015

Abstract

The O’Bannon decision made a significant change to one of the philosophical pillars of intercollegiate athletics in allowing for greater compensation for student athletes. At the same time, the court took only an incremental step in the direction of pay for college athletes: The decision was limited to football and men’s basketball players — as opposed to non-revenue-generating sports — and it set a yearly cap of $5,000 for each of these athletes. However, the court left open the possibility for — indeed, it almost seemed to invite — future challenges to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s restrictions on student-athlete compensation. In this regard, the court’s incremental step in college athlete pay may be a harbinger of more dramatic and structural changes to come in the college athletic system. While this Essay does not take a normative position on the legal or economic justifications for such a possible change in intercollegiate athletics, it does seek to describe some of the potential unintended consequences of a free(r) marketplace for student-athlete services. In particular, this Essay analyzes the possible implications and impact on Title IX, as well as college athletic opportunities and values more generally. In doing so, this Essay attempts to explain why the court’s more cautious approach may be needed going forward to balance the varied interest in the college athletic system.

Keywords: sports law, NCAA, student athletes, compensation, intercollegiate athletics, Title IX

Suggested Citation

Parlow, Matthew J., The Potential Unintended Consequences of the O’Bannon Decision (January 13, 2015). Washington and Lee Law Review Online, Vol. 71, p. 203 (2014); Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 15-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2549043

Matthew Parlow (Contact Author)

Chapman University, The Dale E. Fowler School of Law ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States
714.628.2649 (Phone)

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