By Michael Cork
The NCAA has claimed amateur status for its college athletes for approximately 94 years, and has enforced strict rules against compensation for 67 years. It received a boost earlier this year, when the National Labor Relations Board ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over the Northwestern University football players' efforts to form a union and bargain for pay and benefits. (See my August 17, 2015 publication.)
The NCAA has a realistic chance of having the U.S. Supreme Court decide the matter, as the Ninth Circuit decision found that the high court has not previously decided college athletes are "amateurs." But the NCAA has relied upon a 1984 Supreme Court decision, NCAA v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. of Okla., for the position that the NCAA "amateurism rules" are valid. So, the Ninth Circuit and the NCAA disagree about the interpretation of that case, and only the U.S. Supreme Court can finally decide the matter.