Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White temporarily took the NCAA's side yesterday in its dispute with the University of Oklahoma and the University of Georgia Athletic Association over the NCAA's $281 million contracts to televise college football games. But it is still unclear what games will be televised this fall.
In his order yesterday, White, former all-America halfback at Colorado, extended a federal court injunction that allowed the NCAA to continue with its television plan while the NCAA appealed the District Court ruling. In that decision last September, Judge Juan Burciaga voided the television plan, saying it violated federal antitrust laws.
After a three-judge appeals panel upheld the lower-court ruling, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a rehearing of the case by the full court. The NCAA also was unsuccessful in its effort to extend the injunction.
White asked for responses by attorneys for Oklahoma and Georgia by 5 p.m. today. He also invited the Justice Department to present its views. In the one-paragraph order, White said he was issuing the stay "because I am in doubt as to the status of the District Court's injunction."
White could dissolve the stay any time after 5 p.m. today or he could decide to extend it until October, when the court reconvenes and decides whether to hear the case. If White extends the stay until then, the NCAA television plan would be in effect for the second season after Burciaga ruled in favor of Oklahoma and Georgia.
The NCAA asked White for the stay on Friday and he issued it Saturday. But the Supreme Court did not make it public until yesterday. Clyde Muchmore, an Oklahoma City attorney who represents the University of Oklahoma, said he had expected the NCAA action.
Asked what his response would be, Muchmore said, "We've got two courts and the Justice Department saying the plan was illegal. We've already had one season under the plan (since it was ruled illegal) and there are no difficult legal issues."
Jack Waters, director of promotions for the NCAA, said, "The NCAA is gratified that Justice White has issued a stay." He said the NCAA "is hopeful the stay will remain in effect until the Supreme Court has an opportunity to consider the NCAA's application" for a full review of the case."