It sounds like a good deal. As millions of students struggle to pay for higher education, hundreds of universities offer full scholarships to the lucky few applicants who are talented enough to compete in intercollegiate sports. Yet a growing number of critics decry this arrangement as exploitative. And on August 8th a federal court agreed, ruling that the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a club of schools that sets the rules governing college sports, has violated antitrust law.
The case involves Ed O’Bannon, a former college basketball star who now works at a car dealership. In 2009 he filed a class-action lawsuit against the NCAA and EA Sports, a video-game company that used a thinly disguised version of him in a video game (the avatar and Mr O’Bannon are pictured). EA Sports paid a fat fee to the NCAA but nothing to Mr O’Bannon, because college players are supposed to be unpaid amateurs.