When it comes to the NCAA’s preservation of amateurism, the two sides of the debate have come to common ground on only one conclusion: the O’Bannon and Kessler lawsuits have the potential to blow the whole system up.

Of course, people have varying opinions on whether that’s a good thing, but as is typical any time there is major change, it’s an exaggeration. College sports will not cease to exist. There’s too much money at stake, and there are too many people with vested interests. Successful markets don’t just disappear.

But what will actually happen? We’ve yet to get a good answer. The NCAA has passed off catastrophe as the only possible outcome, and while that’s absurd, its opponents have not done a good job explaining what a new system would look like.

Now that the O’Bannon judge has denied one of the NCAA’s major talking points once and for all, and as the case moves toward trial on June 9, change is becoming more and more likely.

Nobody can give an exact picture, but we have clues about what might happen. Here’s a look into what we might see in an amateurism-less college system.

The formation of a union

Even if O’Bannon and Kessler win their antitrust lawsuits, there’s unlikely to be a full free market. The NCAA will likely get an antitrust exemption and be able to enforce price caps and restrict licensing in some ways, as long as it negotiates with the players. Professional sports leagues have these exemptions, as long as they negotiate.


This is not a free-for-all.

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