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Professor quoted in Sports Illustrated article on NCAA case

Kristen B. Morales

October 9, 2015

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Sports Illustrated recently quoted kinesiology professor Thomas Baker in a story on a lawsuit against the NCAA.

Known as O'Bannon vs. NCAA, the federal antitrust case centers on the question of whether people would stop watching college sports if the athletes were paid. Baker, who specializes in sport law, noted that because the court upheld a previous ruling stating the NCAA was subject to antitrust laws, it's a key win for the students.

"The statement that the NCAA is not the arbiter of amateurism is critical to this case, and that is where the student-athlete plaintiffs can claim victory," said Baker. "Until today, 40-plus years of case law stated that we will not even apply antitrust law to regulations involving student athletes."

The case stems from a 2009 lawsuit involving UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon, who challenged the NCAA's use of his image without financial compensation. The suit argues that, upon graduation, the NCAA should compensate former athletes for the use of their images.

In one part of the ruling, Ninth Circuit Court judge Sidney Thomas remained skeptical of the NCAA's claims that the multi-billion-dollar industry would crumble if teens and young adults could earn money beyond the cost of their college tuition. But, Baker noted, no judge is willing to take it one step further and test that theory.

"We can agree there's this horrible, terrible person who we think deserves to die," he said. "But do you want to pull the lever on the electric chair? Do I want to pull the lever on the electric chair?"

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Related links: Department of Kinesiology