A California federal judge’s ruling that the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s ban on paying top football and men’s basketball players broke antitrust laws could lead to anticompetition suits by other NCAA divisions and sports teams, as well as labor fights over the unionization of student-athletes, according to legal experts.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken determined that the NCAA’s amateurism rules barring compensation for the use of players’ names, images, and likenesses unreasonably restrained trade in the market for certain educational and athletic opportunities offered by Football Bowl Subdivision and Division I basketball schools. She barred the NCAA from continuing to impose those rules.

“Courts have historically given deference when amateur athletics are involved, but over the last number of years, a series of decisions have given less deference to the goal of amateur athletics and applied a more traditional antitrust analysis,” said Ballard Spahr partner Stephen Kastenberg. “This decision is another step in that direction … and it’s a case of widespread significance involving pay for college athletes.”

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