This past week may have finally marked the end of college athletes as amateurs, say experts.
It was on Friday that a district court judge in California ruled in favor of former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon, who sued the NCAA over compensation for the use of university player names and likenesses.
And just the day before, the NCAA—college sports' governing body—announced it would allow more freedom to schools and athletes on how they run their sports programs. That's likely to result in player stipends and increased financial aid.
Both decisions break down the current economic stranglehold on student athletics, said Mark Conrad, professor of sports business at Fordham University.
"The judge in the O'Bannon case relaxed the NCAA mandates to create the possibilities of limited compensation schemes based on earnings for use of likenesses and names," he explained.
"And the NCAA rule change makes it possible for student-athletes to receive compensation if the respective conference wishes," Conrad added.
In fact, said sports attorney Exavier Pope, the NCAA's announcement on Thursday may have come about because the organization knew it could lose the O'Bannon case, which it vowed to appeal.
"They (NCAA) had to know the ruling wasn't going in their favor," he said. "Their vote to change the rules could have been anticipatory."