Athletes are finally starting to receive their checks as part of the settlement between EA Sports and Ed O’Bannon, and former Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy used the opportunity to call for the return of NCAA Football. On Friday, McElroy took to twitter to publish a five-part message about his opinion on the status of the game.
NCAA Video Game > This Check
Use my likeness. I don't care.
I'll send my check back if NCAA Football returns.(2/5) pic.twitter.com/wLUOVnZUCt
— Greg McElroy (@GregMcElroy) April 15, 2016
The bottom line? For McElroy, he’d rather be able to play the game than be paid. It’s worth noting, however, that McElroy has had somewhat of a successful career outside of college football. After leaving college, he went on to play in the NFL with a brief stint on the New York Jets. Nowadays he serves as a college football analyst for SEC Network.
Most college athletes won’t get that lucky, and while appearing in a game as popular as NCAA Football can provide a large amount of exposure, they can’t rely on that exposure to pay the bills. As you’d probably expect, McElroy is getting quite a bit of backlash from individuals who don’t agree with his point of view. Namely, people who think it’s a little hypocritical to accept a check and use it as a platform to say that the game is more important.
To McElroy, maybe it is. But, as quite a few people have pointed out, McElroy was fortunate enough to be able to make it to the NFL, even if only briefly, and to continue his career as a sports analyst. Not everyone is going to have that opportunity, and that’s why plenty of people support the court’s decision in the Ed O’bannon case. It wasn’t about removing NCAA Football from the market, it was about making sure that the athletes who made an appearance in the game were fairly compensated.
But, just because athletes are finally starting to receive their checks doesn’t mean that the fight is over. The return of NCAA Football may depend on a decision from the Supreme Court.
While district judge Claudia Wilken ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, finding that the NCAA had indeed violated antitrust laws, the plaintiffs would also be eligible to receive up to $5,000 a year as compensation for use of their likeness. Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals for the 9th circuit’s ruling reversed the decision to have money set aside for athletes, only agreeing that the NCAA had violated antitrust laws. That left athletes hoping for compensation beyond the cost of their tuition out of luck.
After the 9th Circuit’s decision, the plaintiffs petitioned for the case to be heard by the Supreme Court last month. Regardless of whether or not the Supreme Court chooses to hear the case, a decision will still be made. If the Supreme Court hears the case, that could mean the 9th Circuit’s decision would be reversed, allowing athletes to receive compensation. The Supreme Court could also agree with the 9th Circuit’s decision, in which case their ruling would stand and athletes would not be granted the compensation afforded to them by the initial ruling.
The results will be the same if they don’t hear it, meaning that athletes will continue on without compensation, likely ruling out any NCAA games in the near future. If the athletes aren’t compensated, it’s unlikely that college sports will make a return, at least in their previous form.
It’ll be a while before we find out, but we’re rooting for the Supreme Court to hear the case and allow athletes to receive compensation, as that would be another step toward bringing the beloved NCAA Football franchise back into our homes.
Are Kirk Herbstreit and Greg McElroy right? Does the case have a chance at the Supreme Court? Let us know in the comments below or on social media. As always, we’ll continue to keep you updated on the latest NCAA developments here at SGO.