Author: Sports Law // USLegal
With March Madness heading into the Sweet Sixteen, conversation regarding the “Student Athlete” and their forced status within the NCAA system has now reached feverish levels. Never before have personal insights and opinions on the revenue being generated from “amateurs” generated such personal opinions.
Let’s be clear, the NCAA has deemed all students who play a colligiant sport to be classified as “Student Athletes” and are limited to Amateur Status. Let’s run down what the NCAA deems a “Professional Athlete to be:
- Are paid (in any form) or accept the promise of pay for playing in an athletics contest;
- Sign a contract or verbally commit with an agent or a professional sports organization;
- Ask that your name be placed on a draft list (Note: in basketball, once you become a student-athlete at an NCAA school, you may enter a professional league’s draft one time without jeopardizing your eligibility provided you are not drafted by any team in that league and you declare your intention in writing to return to college within 30 days after the draft;
- Use your athletics skill for pay in any form (for example, TV commercials, demonstrations);
- Play on a professional athletics team; or
- Participate on an amateur sports team and receive any salary, incentive payment, award, gratuity, educational expenses or expense allowance (other than playing apparel, equipment and actual and necessary travel, and room and board expenses).
Source: Pro athletes and the things they trademark Author: Ahiza Garcia @ahiza_garcia
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But what about the “Likeness and Your Name”? Can a Student Athlete generate capital from exploiting and engaging in agreements that use their name, likeness or voice? If the NCAA has Intellectual Property that it actively licenses to third party vendors, should the players also be able to engage in such contracts or at least be invited to the negotiation table and represent themselves? What rights do the players have?
Let’s start out with a list of Trademarks that the NCAA currently own:
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Michael Carrier, a Rutgers law professor who specializes in antitrust matters, said the waivers appear to be another bulwark aimed at preventing the compensation of college athletes.
“The NCAA dropped it when it looked like an issue and this made them appear more generous, but a lot of the power is held at the conference level,” he said. “As a practical matter, if you’re signing away these rights anyway, then that’s really going to limit you.”
Before the start of every season, college athletes must sign an NCAA “student-athlete statement” to affirm their eligibility. It covers things such as educational records and drug testing, and for years it included a passage in which athletes gave permission for the NCAA and related parties “to use (the athlete’s) name or picture to generally promote NCAA championships or other NCAA events, activities or programs.”
– Michael Carrier, Rutgers Law Professor