The NCAA’s battle against certain amateurism rules related to player likenesses, commonly referred to as the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit, and more is about to move forward. On Friday a federal judge cleared part of a class action lawsuit against the NCAA concerning the use of players’ likenesses and names.
According to a report by USA Today Sports, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken will allow the players in the class action lawsuit to move forward with their case against the NCAA’s rules related to compensation for student-athletes. This is what the NCAA has been battling for a while and is already starting to see some changes take place in hopes of avoiding future legal battles.
“[The plaintiffs] request for this injunction is not merely ancillary to their demand for damages,” a statement from Judge Wilken reads. “Rather, it is deemed necessary to eliminate the restraints that the NCAA has allegedly imposed on competition in the relevant markets. Without the requested injunctive relief, all class members — including both current and former student-athletes — would potentially be subject to ongoing antitrust harms resulting from the continued unauthorized use of their names, images, and likenesses. Because an injunction would offer all class members ‘uniform relief’ from this harm … class certification is appropriate.”
One part of the lawsuit that will not be allowed to proceed will be the portion seeking compensation from the NCAA for the use of names and likenesses in TV broadcasts and other forms of media such as printed materials and video games. The video game issue was one that helped spark the legal battle from the beginning, but due to the complications in accurately determining which players would be eligible for any compensation, that part of the lawsuit will be left out moving forward. The threat to the annual college football game has already had an impact on the franchise from EA Sports. As the NCAA and conferences pulled their licensing deals from the video game giant, the future of the popular video game franchise was put on ice for the foreseeable future.
Changes have been hinted at for a while now around college football, perhaps the sport most at risk to the system’s future. Conference commissioners have been discussing the future and the need for changes all year and that talk will continue to grow as well while everyone keeps a close eye on this legal case.