The NCAA tried all it could to avoid a potentially damaging trial, but the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit will officially go to trial on June 9. The starting date was previously scheduled but is now set in stone after U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken denied a motion by the NCAA. Now the NCAA will have another trial to prepare for in 2015 after the judge split the O’Bannon lawsuit into two separate cases.
As reported by USA Today, Wilken formally separated the anti-trust case led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon from another case focusing on college sports video games led by former Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller. The two cases were lumped together as the O’Bannon lawsuit gained traction among former players, but now the NCAA will likely have more legal battles ahead of it. The Keller lawsuit is now set to go to trial in March 2015. The focus of the O’Bannon lawsuit will still be on the use of player likenesses and names in other forms for promotion, advertising and more.
While the case will now be split into two different categories, Wilken did not approve a request by the NCAA to have all evidence related to video games to be used in the first trial, the O’Bannon trial. That could turn out to be a major advantage for the plaintiffs in the O’Bannon lawsuit, as the revenue generated from the NCAA-licensed video games (primarily the NCAA Football video game franchise produced by Electronic Arts) is nothing to omit. EA Sports canceled the production for a version of its popular NCAA Football franchise this year, even after initially losing the NCAA licence from the college equivalent to the Madden NFL franchise.
In the end, the results of the O’Bannon lawsuit could set the tone for the Keller lawsuit in March. If the NCAA takes a loss in the O’Bannon lawsuit, the desire to settle out of court before heading to trial again in March may rise. If the NCAA wins the O’Bannon lawsuit, then the likelihood it shies away from the Keller lawsuit will dwindle as well.