On August 5, 2016, in Jenkins v. NCAA, Judge Claudia Wilken (also the judge in O’Bannon v. NCAA) entered an order denying the NCAA’s Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. In Jenkins, the plaintiffs argue there are “restrictions on the compensation of student-athletes for their athletic performance.” Relying on the Ninth Circuit’s language in O’Bannon that “compensation” must be “tethered to academics,” the NCAA moved for judgment on the pleadings in accordance with 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by arguing that “offering [student-athletes] cash sum untethered to education expenses was not a less restrictive alternative to the NCAA’s current rules under the rule of reason.”
Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states “[a]fter the pleadings are closed—but early enough not to delay trial—a party may move for judgment on the pleadings.” Judgment on the pleadings may be granted when the moving party clearly establishes on the face of the pleadings that no material issue of fact remains to be resolved and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Judge Wilken concluded that the case was not to be dismissed at this stage, because plaintiffs could seek “compensation” tethered to academics that is not cash. The Court stated “[t]he Ninth Circuit’s decision in O’Bannon simply forecloses one type of relief Plaintiffs previously sought: cash compensation untethered to educational expenses. While O’Bannon is binding on this Court, it does not provide the basis for judgment on the pleadings.” Because the plaintiffs challenge rules prohibiting the provision of other “benefits” and “in-kind” compensation as well as cash compensation, the Court ruled that the motion should be denied.