Pay to Play: Utah ADs anxious about shifting landscape

First Published Aug 16 2014 04:04PM      Last Updated Aug 17 2014 01:01 pm

FILE - In this Sept. 18, 2010, file photo, former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon Jr. sits in his office in Henderson, Nev. Five years after the former UCLA star filed his antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA, it goes to trial Monday, June 9, 2014, in a California courtroom. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken, File)
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"Sure, a select few of them could go professional right now and make money from their sports, but you could argue that we provide the platform that positions them to go make those dollars," he said. "Secondly, if a student-athlete doesn’t like the collegiate model, they have a decision to make: They can go be a professional. They are making a choice. End of the day, collegiate athletics isn’t a right, it’s a privilege."

In Wilken’s ruling, she argued that developmental or overseas professional opportunities aren’t truly part of the market, that colleges offer a "unique bundle of goods and services" to prospective athletes. The language of her ruling could affect the NCAA in other antitrust lawsuits challenging the organization as being a monopolistic cartel that controls how much athletes can make: scholarships, room and board. Nothing else.

For now, the athletic directors remain optimistic, but they also realize the need to stay nimble as the landscape shifts around them.

"There’s the reality it’s not going to be static," Hill said. "It’s going to continue to change and adjust. But some things won’t change: People will watch Utah play. They go because it’s their alma mater. And these athletes will continue to work hard and need to be supported. It’s been an ongoing process for years, and I think it will continue to be."

kgoon@sltrib.com Twitter: @kylegoon





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