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Federal judge partly OKs amateurism and likeness lawsuit against NCAA

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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.

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12 Responses to “Federal judge partly OKs amateurism and likeness lawsuit against NCAA”
  1. sportsguy3434 says: Nov 8, 2013 11:19 PM

    Does anyone else think it is weird that the ncaa can tell someone that they can’t do something that is completely personal to them-sign their name?

  2. manik56 says: Nov 8, 2013 11:47 PM

    If you agree to play under the NCAA umbrella, you agree to play by their rules. If you do not like it, you do not have to play. No one if forcing anyone to sign the contract. So no, it does not strike me as weird.

  3. Anoesis says: Nov 9, 2013 7:11 AM

    If you want any legitimate chance of playing in the NFL you most certainly have to go through NCAA training camp first. That doesn’t mean the NCAA should have unfettered use of you as a slave to rake in every conceivable profit. They already do that, mainly via TV, in exchange for a ridiculously over-priced scholarship.

  4. redsoxchamp11 says: Nov 9, 2013 8:14 AM

    it happens at every level. I once saw with my own eyes Warren Sapp decline a signature to a kid in a wheelchair because it would be a breach of his contract in the NFL.

  5. mdac1012 says: Nov 9, 2013 9:47 AM

    Manik56; great argument, makes a lot of sense? So based on that I guess your against free agency in all sports? Because that was the policy that used to be in place in all major sports and nobody forced guys like Curt Flood to play in MLB. I suppose he had no right to challenge the reserve clause because that’s what the rules were when he signed up and he should have just accepted that, right?

  6. ancientcougar says: Nov 9, 2013 10:18 AM

    If the basic foundation of the NCAA is going to be challenged, we may be opening a Pandora’s Box that will never be able to be closed. Maybe, there could be deferred payments to those involved once they leave the college level.

  7. keltictim says: Nov 9, 2013 10:51 AM

    Or maybe they could take their scholarships and be thankful. Considering other people have to pay usually over 100k for those degrees once books, finance, housing and all of that is considered. Hmm 100k+ that’s a pretty good salary to play a game for 4 years.

  8. tigersgeaux says: Nov 9, 2013 11:02 AM

    unfettered use of a person’s likeness in a college environment, while making huge amounts of money via TV contracts and merchandising seems absurd. Maybe the schools could provide a fair estimate of the cost of housing, food, tuition, tutors, etc. and allowable under some set guidelines, then subtract that from the revenues and dispense an appropriate share back to the athletes in form of delayed payments made upon graduation, and maybe some stipend to care for incidentals (such as a burger and drink, or an inexpensive date).

    Status quo where there is unrestricted use without any recompense of a player’s likeness is absurd.

  9. longtallsam says: Nov 9, 2013 11:15 AM

    keltictim says:
    “…100k+ that’s a pretty good salary to play a game for 4 years.”

    I pretty much have to agree with that. After all, these are just recent high school grads, who for the most part, if not in college, would be in low paying, minimum wage jobs. This is the only opportunity most would have of even getting in college.
    I don’t understand how the advocates of “pay to play” don’t comprehend the value these student-athletes are receiving.
    That said, some of the NCAA restrictions, such as on signing autographs, are pretty ridiculous.

  10. 4cornersfan says: Nov 9, 2013 12:43 PM

    manik56 “If you agree to play under the NCAA umbrella, you agree to play by their rules.”

    That’s the point, the NCAA is the only game in town as far as major college sports is concerned. Its like a contract for a loan or an insurance policy. You have to have loans to stay in business or to expand and you have to have insurance. A loan agreement or insurance policy is almost always non-negotiable in its basic and most important terms. Playing under the NCAA is similar, you must sign or you do not play. Lenders and insurance companies are regulated to avoid abusive terms, the NCAA is not. In law, such contracts are called contracts of adhesion and their terms are always construed against the company and in favor of the individual because they are the result of unequal bargaining positions and often skirt the antitrust laws. The NCAA is not subject to that kind of scrutiny.

  11. Deb says: Nov 9, 2013 12:45 PM

    Great discussion about this topic on Showtime’s 60 Minutes Sports Wednesday. As noted in the program, schools are free to make millions off these kids, but if they accept a sandwich from someone–oooh, they’re in violation and can’t play. It’s blatant exploitation. The amount of money they generate far exceeds the cost of their educations and few of them go on to multi-million-dollar careers in the NFL.

    The EA Sports games use the player likenesses but a generic coach rather than a Les Miles or a Nick Saban. Why? Because they’d be forced to compensate Miles or Saban while they’re free to exploit the players at will. That’s just nuts.

    It’s long past time this situation was rectified.

  12. georgeboy99 says: Nov 10, 2013 10:03 AM

    A friends son was offered a scholarship to Utah. Prior to the start of his freshman year he was already on the newest version of EA’s NCAA. he had just graduated from HS and wasn’t actually enrolled yet!!!!! Funny thing is he is redshirted, 4th on the depth chart but he “looked” like the kind of kid they wanted on the team, so hence in the game.

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