Campus News

Pulling the lever

Sports Illustrated recently quoted kinesiology professor Thomas Baker in a story about a lawsuit against the NCAA.

Known as O’Bannon v. NCAA, the federal antitrust case centers on the question of whether people would stop watching college sports if the athletes were paid. Baker, who specializes in sport law in the College of Education, said that because the court upheld a previous ruling stating the NCAA was subject to antitrust laws, it’s a key win for the students.

In one part of the ruling, 9th Circuit Court Judge Sidney Thomas remained skeptical of the NCAA’s claims that the multibillion dollar industry would crumble if teenagers and young adults could earn money beyond the cost of their college tuition.

But, Baker said, no judge is willing to take it one step further and test that theory. He compared it to pulling the switch on a death row inmate.

“We can agree there’s this horrible, terrible person who we think deserves to die,” he said. “But do you want to pull the lever on the electric chair? Do I want to pull the lever on the electric chair?”