Double trouble for NCAA? O’Bannon lawsuit split in two

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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.

After stops at TCU, Arkansas State, Cameron Echols-Luper to give WKU a try

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Maybe the third time will be a charm for Cameron Echols-Luper?

On his personal Instagram account Wednesday, Echols-Luper revealed that he has decided to continue his collegiate playing career at Western Kentucky.  According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the decision was made following a visit to the school earlier this week.

As a graduate transfer, the wide receiver will be eligible to play immediately in 2017 for the Hilltoppers. However, he has to finish up some schoolwork at his former school, Arkansas State, before officially moving on to WKU.

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Echols-Luper began his collegiate career at TCU in 2013, transferring to ASU in 2015. After sitting out that season, he was third on the Red Wolves in receptions (26) and receiving yards (407). His 15.7 yards per reception was second on the team.

Ex-USC DL Noah Jefferson won’t be transferring to Arizona after all

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In early March, Noah Jefferson announced on Twitter that he would be transferring from USC to Arizona.  Nearly five months later?

Never mind.

Wednesday, UA head coach Rich Rodriguez announced that Jefferson will not, as previously expected, be playing for the Wildcats this season.  No reason for the abrupt and unexpected about-face was given.

The coach did, though, intimate that a future pairing between the player and the program isn’t out of the question.

Jefferson wouldn’t have been eligible to play in 2017 for the Wildcats even if his move to the desert had come to fruition. He would’ve, though, had two years of eligibility remaining beginning in 2018 at his disposal.

A four-star member of USC’s 2015 recruiting class, Jefferson played in 14 games, starting one of those, as a true freshman. After starting the season-opening loss to Alabama last season, Jefferson never played another down for USC.

Hugh Freeze makes first public comments since exiting Ole Miss in disgrace

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For the first time since his unceremonious exit from Ole Miss, Hugh Freeze has spoken publicly.  Somewhat.

In what was described as a brief interview with USA Today Sports Wednesday, the former Ole Miss head coach said his family and church have helped him get through the storm of the last few days. When asked if his family was standing by him, Freeze responded, “Oh, gosh, yeah.”

“God is good, even in difficult times,’’ Freeze told the website. “Wonderful wife and family, and that’s my priority.”

“I got some good friends,” the former head coach added.

The stunning news dropped last Thursday night that Freeze’s tenure as the head coach at Ole Miss had come to an end because of at least one call from his university-issued cell phone to a known escort service.  While Freeze blamed the call on a misdial, the administration found a “pattern of misconduct” during a deep dive into his phone records, leading the school to confront the coach about the situation.

After meetings with Freeze Wednesday night and then again Thursday morning, it became apparent that, if he didn’t resign, the school was going to fire him.

Because of a moral turpitude clause in his contract, there was neither a buyout nor a settlement.

Five-star 2017 Auburn signee undergoes ‘minor procedure,’ should be a go for start of summer camp

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It appears Auburn has dodged what could’ve been a significant injury bullet.

Citing a person familiar with the situation, Brandon Marcello of the Auburn arm of 247Sports.com is reporting that Calvin Ashley underwent a procedure on one of his eyes recently.  SECCountry.com described it as “a minor procedure”; both websites stated that the touted offensive tackle will be ready for the start of summer camp on July 31, this coming Monday.

The reports come a few days after Ashley posted a picture on social media of what appeared to be him in a hospital room.

The football program has not yet, at least publicly, addressed what if any type of health issue with which Ashley is dealing.

A five-star member of the Tigers’ 2017 recruiting class, Ashley was rated as the No. 6 tackle in the country; the No. 1 player at any position in Washington D.C.; and the No. 27 player overall on 247Sports.com‘s composite board.  Ashley was the highest-rated player in AU’s class this year, the only five-star recruit pulled in by Gus Malzahn and company this cycle.

The 6-6, 310-pound Ashley is expected to compete immediately for the starting job at left tackle.