Lawyers for the NCAA and the Ed O'Bannon plaintiffs agree a federal judge's injunction will begin applying to current and prospective football and men's basketball players on Aug. 1, 2015 for the 2016-17 academic year.
The parties filed a motion Wednesday saying they agree on how to clarify U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken's injunction from last week that would allow players to be paid for use of their names, images and likenesses in addition to cost of attendance. According to the motion, both sides agree the injunction will not start until the beginning of the next recruiting cycle, meaning Aug. 1, 2015, when written offer letters can first be sent to players who will enroll after July 1, 2016.
"The injunction does not affect the application of NCAA rules to current and prospective student-athletes until August 1, 2015, the start of the next FBS football and Division I basketball recruiting cycle, at which point the injunction will take effect with respect to any benefits offered pursuant to paragraphs 1(a) or 1(b) of the injunction to prospective and current student-athletes for the 2016-2017 season and beyond," the proposed order states. "The injunction does not affect the application of NCAA rules with respect to benefits received prior to July 1, 2016, by student-athletes."
The filing notes that the agreement on the timing of the injunction doesn't waive the NCAA or the O'Bannon plaintiffs' right to appeal.
Citing concerns by member schools, the NCAA had earlier this week asked Wilken for an "urgent clarification" about when the injunction starts and who it covers. In her 99-page ruling, Wilken said the injunction will not be delayed pending any appeal and that it would not "affect any prospective student-athlete who will enroll in college before July 1, 2016." However, Wilken's actual injunction document refers to payments "for the licensing or use of prospective, current or fomer ... players' names, images and likenesses."
The NCAA wrote, "This has prompted concerns among colleges and universities that the injunction might, contrary to the Court's opinion, apply immediately to current student-athletes."
In its earlier filing, the NCAA said it believes Wilken's language to mean she is only referring to compensation for athletes first enrolling after July 1, 2016. But the NCAA has asked Wilken to clarify the injunction won't start until Aug. 1, 2015, for players who enroll after July 1, 2016.
"Otherwise the injunction would permit colleges and conferences to compensate current student-athletes before the NCAA's member colleges have an opportunity to consider new rules consistent with the injunction," the NCAA wrote. "Colleges are in the midst of the offer letter process for prospective student-athletes planning to start college in 2015. Budgets and financial aid for the coming academic year are already in place or being finalized. The status of the rules governing current and 2015 enrolling student-athletes need to be as clear as soon as possible."
The NCAA, which has said it's appealing the ruling, also wrote that to govern issues raised by the injunction, schools may need to adopt new rules related to equal distribution of licensing revenues, caps on payments relating to licensing revenue and the implementation of a trust fund. "As the Court's Findings appreciate, it takes time for the hundreds of Division I colleges to consider and adopt new rules," the NCAA wrote.
On Tuesday, the O'Bannon plaintiffs filed a request joining the NCAA in clarifying the timing of Wilken's injunction. However, the plaintiffs disagreed that the injunction is limited to only recruits enrolling in college on or after July 1, 2016.
"That exclusion of thousands of current student-athletes (operating under one-year renewable scholarships or multi-year scholarships) is plainly inconsistent with the Court's injunction, which twice identifies the 'licensing or use of prospective, current or former' student-athlete NILs, as even the NCAA acknowledges," the plaintiffs wrote. "And it could lead to inadvertent disparities among teammates, despite the Court's repeated emphasis on equal sharing among student-athletes."
The plaintiffs want Wilken to make clear that her injunction will apply to all football and men's basketball players starting in the 2016-17 academic year. The plaintiffs said they continue to meet and confer with the NCAA about this issue. "This approach is fair; is consistent with the Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law; and satisfies the NCAA's desire" for clarity for the upcoming academic year, the plaintiffs wrote.