Law & Policy: Governing Bodies
Athletes' Unionization Attempt Scores Major Victory
by Michael Gaio March 2014
In their attempt to unionize college athletes, the Northwestern football players and the recently formed College Athletes Players Association scored a major victory on Wednesday.
HS Baseball Player with Rare Disease Deemed Eligible
by March 2014
Competing in sports at the high school level is no easy feat, but for one Louisiana high school student becoming eligible to compete has been a challenge in itself.
The Louisiana High School Athletic Association ruled that 18-year-old Sean Thiel was ineligible to participate in spring baseball this season after missing too many days of school. The absences were caused by a rare medical condition from which Thiel suffers known as achalasia. The disease affects the esophagus’s ability to move food to the stomach, which led to a number of absences — including a surgery at the Mayo Clinic to stabilize his condition in early March.
According to The Advocate, after filing a federal suit against the LHSAA March 3, Thiel was finally granted a hardship waiver that allowed him to begin playing earlier this month.
"I commend the LHSAA for taking another look at this. We have no ill will. We're just happy they re-evaluated the situation," Michael Thiel told The Advocate Friday. "It is a positive story for a change. It's the right result.”
"It reinforces your faith in humanity."
Hardship waivers are used in high school sports to help make a student eligible for competition if he has a condition that causes him to not meet the requirements for eligibility. As a part of the lawsuit that brought Thiel’s situation to the LHSAA’s attention, Thiel’s family claimed that the LHSAA had violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by not allowing Thiel to play baseball even though he met the requirements for a hardship waiver.
After Thiel became eligible to play, Thiel’s family dropped the suit March 18.
As part of the agreement with the LHSAA, Thiel — a high school sophomore — must meet all future eligibility requirements if he wishes to continue playing high school sports in his junior and senior seasons.
Thiel’s father told The Advocate his son has already recorded a couple of hits in two games since his reinstatement on the team.
Blog: Every Athlete Deserves a Certified Athletic Trainer
by Mike Hopper, Guest Contributor March 2014
Youth sports injuries seem to continue to pile up. Unfortunately so do the fatalities. In recent years, we’ve heard about many football players who have died after suffering brain trauma. We’ve heard reports of athletes who have died of sudden cardiac death. And we’ve heard of athletes dying of heat illnesses such as exertional heat stroke or sickle cell anemia. In response to that, there have been significant regulations in the way of law or league policies for these various cases.
Former WVU Football Player the Latest to Sue NCAA
by Michael Gaio March 2014
Former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston is the latest former student-athlete to sue the NCAA. Alston filed suit against the NCAA and college football's five major conferences on Wednesday, claiming they violated antitrust laws by agreeing to cap the value of an athletic scholarship at less than the actual cost of attending school.
Proposed Law Sets Cardiac Arrest Prevention Protocols
by Michael Gaio March 2014
More than 2,000 teenagers die from sudden cardiac arrest in the U.S. each year, according to the Connecticut Post. And now the state of Connecticut is trying to do its part to limit that number, particularly in high school student-athletes.
Judge Sends O'Bannon Class Action Against NCAA to Trial
by Emily Attwood February 2014
Remember Ed O'Bannon, the former UCLA basketball player who filed suit against the NCAA more than four years ago, alleging it was profiting off of O’Bannon and other NCAA athletes’ likenesses found in EA Sports video games? After a long and winding road, a federal judge has okayed the class-action suit to go to trial, setting a start date of June 9.
While it is still possible a settlement between the NCAA and the plaintiffs will be reached prior to the start of the trial, the outcome of the lawsuit could have drastic consequences for the NCAA, college athletic conferences and television networks. At the heart of the lawsuit is the NCAA rule that prohibits student-athletes from profiting off of the use of their name, likeness or image.
"We're not asking for any money to be paid," said Michael Hausfeld, attorney for the plaintiffs, during a summary judgment hearing on Thursday. "We are asking for the restraint to be removed ... and then the market will determine how it plays out."
In January 2013, the lawsuit expanded to allow current athletes to join, as well as target other entities profiting off of athletes’ likenesses, including conferences and television networks. The plaintiffs are in the process of working out settlement details in their suit against EA Sports.
Thursday’s hearing took into account various arguments by both sides, including the NCAA’s assertion that the First Amendment protected it from requiring athletes’ permission to broadcast their appearances at games. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken also called into question whether the NCAA’s no-pay rule violated antitrust laws.
"Up to this point you always heard the NCAA argue that these restraints are lawful -- purportedly," Hausfeld said. "We're done with that. There's no presumptions. This court is saying if we go to trial, you're going to have to prove that."
Should a jury rule in favor of the plaintiffs, the results could bankrupt the NCAA, though a lengthy appeals process would first ensue. A less drastic outcome could result in concessions from both sides, with restrictions on athletes’ ability to profit from their likenesses removed or lessened, or schools agreeing to set aside a portion of revenues for athletes.
Florida HS Transfer Eligibility Lawsuit Spurs Agreement
by Paul Steinbach November 2013
A football player who last week sued his school district over a year-old transfer policy will drop his suit in exchange for playing eligibility.
Bill Boosts Native American Mascot Defense
by Michael Gaio November 2013
The Wisconsin Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would make it harder to force public schools to drop American Indian nicknames. Senate Republicans passed the bill 17-16. It will now go to Republican Governor Scott Walker's desk for approval.
NCAA (Finally) Issues Punishment Against U. of Miami
by Michael Gaio October 2013
It's been more than two years, but the NCAA finally issued its punishment on the University of Miami following an investigation into the school's athletic department.
Lax Reporting Sparks Revisions to Mass. Concussion Law
by Emily Attwood July 2013
Less than a third of Massachusetts schools turned in reports last year on sports-related concussions and head injuries as required by state law, but even the small amount of data collected demonstrates that concussions among student-athletes pose a significant health issue.