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Court rules in favor of players in Ed O’Bannon case

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Two days, two monumental and seismic events for the game of college football, assuring that the sport will never, ever be the same.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled Friday in favor a group of plaintiffs led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon.

In the 99-page ruling, the court issued an injunction which will prevent the NCAA “from enforcing any rules or bylaws that would prohibit its member schools and conferences from offering their FBS football or Division I basketball recruits a limited share of the revenues generated from the use of their names, images, and likenesses in addition to a full grant-in-aid.”

As it currently stands, the win for the plaintiffs is about more than the compensation they will receive.

The attorney who represented the plaintiffs, Bill Isaacson, said the ruling is a “major step towards decency for college athletes.”

“The judge’s decision strikes down NCAA rules restricting their compensation and permits reasonable but significant sharing with athletes — both for the costs of education and to establish trust funds — from the billions in revenues that schools earn from their football and basketball players,” Isaacson continued in the statement.

The ruling also comes on the heels of the NCAA granting autonomy to the Power Five conferences. While the schools now have more power to govern themselves, the players gained plenty of leverage with Wilken’s ruling.

“The court finds that a submarket exists in which television networks seek to acquire group licenses to use FBS football and Division I basketball players’ names, images and likenesses in live game telecasts,” Wilken wrote. “Television networks frequently enter into licensing agreements to use the intellectual property of schools, conferences, and event organizers — such as the NCAA or a bowl committee — in live telecasts of football and basketball games. In these agreements, the network often seeks to acquire the rights to use the names, images and likenesses of the participating student-athletes during the telecast.”

As part of the ruling, the NCAA can still cap the amount of compensation an athlete receives, but it “will not be permitted to set this cap below the cost of attendance, as the term is defined in its current bylaws.” It also prevents the NCAA from making rules that wouldn’t allow a school from “offering to deposit a limited share of licensing revenue in trust for their FBS football and Division I basketball recruits, payable when they leave school or their eligibility expires.”

The ruling will not affect any recruit enrolled in college prior to July 1, 2016.

“Nothing in this injunction will preclude the NCAA from continuing to enforce all of its other existing rules which are designed to achieve legitimate pro competitive goals,” Wilken wrote.

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18 Responses to “Court rules in favor of players in Ed O’Bannon case”
  1. ancientcougar says: Aug 8, 2014 7:07 PM

    WTF is going on.

  2. hcassidy73 says: Aug 8, 2014 7:13 PM

    With all the Conference Networks, Espn & every other sports network now showing baseball, softball, soccer etc, etc.. How can she rule that the trust can be used just for FBS Football and Division 1 Basketball recruits? From reading the ruling it seems that if your image is used on TV, you own the right(NLI) to be paid. Also does this ruling in effect violate Title IX, as her Ruling makes no mention of women’s athletes. Will those who chair the Title IX committee now step in and go over top of Wilkens ruling and go before Congress?

    My thoughts, get ready for higher cable bills and higher ticket prices. Because now with the autonomy being passed, it’s going to be an arms race to land the elite recruits, so as fans we will suffer with higher prices for everything.

  3. mogogo1 says: Aug 8, 2014 7:25 PM

    Greed killed the NCAA on this one. Making money selling the likenesses of guys who had been out of college for years without a penny going to them or even giving them the opportunity to opt out? There’s a strong argument that when a kid is in school on scholarship that they have rights to his likeness for marketing, but who on earth told the NCAA that would extend forever?

  4. witchrunner says: Aug 8, 2014 7:41 PM

    It appears the the ruling is actually rather limited. So, the athletes can get paid by the school when the school uses the athletes for promotional purposes. It then says that the students would receive the money at the end of their playing days, essentially, and that the schools can not place a cap on that revenue to less that the “cost of attendance.” As I read it, the kids still have to cover their own OOP expenses until the leave the school or are no longer eligible to play.

    Although not stated, it would appear that this applies to all athletes, scholarship or not, major sport or not. I suppose that a school could avoid it for other sports if they don’t use player names or pics in advertising. Not sure where the “Programs” fit into that definition.

    Lot’s of questions, few answers and lots of litigation to go.

  5. germanflats13a38 says: Aug 8, 2014 7:49 PM

    Two words: Olympic Model

  6. redsghost says: Aug 8, 2014 7:51 PM

    Poor,poor O’Bannon. The poor guy has to work hard at Scholastic goals as well as working to get his free education. Wonder if he would switch with the millions of American’s who has to work full time while going to college or in my case, work full time, go to college full time at night, worked a 20 hr part time job on the weekends while raising 4 kids (and half that time as a single parent).
    This doesn’t bode well for ANY college students who receive scholarships. What about baseball athletes, wrestling, basketball, volleyball, cheerleaders. How about the math and science geniuses who discover or create patents for MIT, Yale etc?
    The college provided an opportunity for a free education but poor,poor O’Bannon.

  7. squackduckhawk says: Aug 8, 2014 8:16 PM

    Other college sports generally operate at a loss and are typically subsidized by mens basketball and football. O’ Bannon is a car salesman in Las Vegas

  8. sailbum7 says: Aug 8, 2014 8:32 PM

    The problem with this is that is allows the schools to give the athletes a share, it does not require it. This is going to end up in more litigation as I would expect the schols to all band together and not share this revenue willingly as it takes money out of their pockets. It is going to take a ruling that either requires the school to give a minimum percentage or one that allows the athlete to withhold permission to use of the his name/likeness from the school to force the issue before the schools will relent and start sharing the wealth.

  9. udub says: Aug 8, 2014 9:07 PM

    Future Jameis Winston one day: Oh, sweet! I got my check today from the school! Let’s go out and party.

    Future Jameis at the end of the school year: What the heck is this? I just got a $50,000 tuition bill in the mail. I’m a football player?!?!

    If football players and basketball players are just employees then can you really expect a school to give them $$$$ and then also six figures of free education too?

  10. mrlaloosh says: Aug 8, 2014 9:49 PM


  11. 6thsense10 says: Aug 8, 2014 9:52 PM


    You do know that plenty of jobs offer tuition assistance right? They horrors of horrors!!!!

    Pay their employees and pay for their school. Seeing as these employees are extremely valuable cogs in a multi billion dollar industry I don’t think it’s a stretch to believe they would. Judging from the recruiting wars for talented prep players in football and basketball there’s little doubt that the players would get that and more.

  12. udub says: Aug 8, 2014 10:23 PM

    Tuition assistance is different than totally free room & board.

    Getting a break on tuition while also working a $9.00 an hour job in the school’s residence hall office is different than getting a full ride while also receiving a football players ‘share of the billions made off him’

    The rallying cry is that they aren’t student athletes but actually employees of a billion dollar business.

    Ok, so treat them like employees if that is what you believe.
    -Get rid of women’s soccer, men’s tennis, etc. etc. Those units of the business aren’t bringing in revenue.
    -They get X% of tuition and Y% off room and board not full rides. Whatever the setup at their university is for any student job that has those breaks
    -If they want an apartment instead of a dorm they have to pay for it, like any normal student/employee would have to. No more checks from the athletic department to pay rent (they get money for room & board still if not in the dorms currently from their evil exploiters)
    -No more free healthcare. Employees pay copays, pay part of their premiums, etc. The typical student does the same.

    The list can go on and on.

    People can’t have the best of both worlds and have none of the negatives in this case. They can’t be student athletes when they get the benefits of being a student athlete but then be employees when being a student athlete is a hindrance. What are they? One or the other

  13. 6thsense10 says: Aug 8, 2014 10:46 PM


    Again you have little to no understanding of a free market and are applying your limited understanding to this situation. There are very few athletes talented enough to play D1 ball. Those that can in a free market would get free tuition, board, and pay to participate in a multi billion dollar industry. You keep living in this fantasy world where you think these individuals would not command that in free market when every athlete in a popular sport on the the pro level shows you can. Also in an occupation with a high demand such as lawyers, doctors, and IT workers they can and often do receive much higher benefits than the typical worker. Coming out as an IT major I had companies willing to pay me a high starting salary and full cost of grad school.

  14. general74 says: Aug 9, 2014 3:13 AM

    I posted this in the NFL forum as well but here are my thoughts on the issue.
    I think you are all missing the point. The O’Bannon law suite was only suing over money from when the universities profited off the players likeness so this is simple, no more video games and no more jerseys with numbers on them. Ticket stubs won’t have players pictures on them and programs won’t be sold anymore. When promoting games on TV it won’t be watch Braxton Miller and the Buckeyes take on Devin Gardner and Michigan it will just be watch the Buckeyes vs Michigan. The school can profit off the team as a whole just not the individuals. I think it will be a long time before they actually have to pay players to play, they just have to stop profiting off the likeness and that should be easy enough to do. I think this decision is fair but I think the bigger picture still isn’t changed college sports will continue on as always.

  15. germanflats13a38 says: Aug 9, 2014 5:47 AM

    Granting a player an ownership interest in a jersey is problematic where it does not have their name in it. There are very few numbers on any team that were not used by a prior player sometime I’m the last 100 years.

  16. ancientcougar says: Aug 9, 2014 9:16 AM

    I always liked the school spirit that football in the fall instilled in me. That is why I liked it over the pro-game. Now the lines are blurring between the two and now I’m asking myself what and who am I cheering for.

  17. fsu01 says: Aug 9, 2014 10:45 AM

    Maybe I am incorrect, but this could signal the return of the video games. If in fact what they are talking about is $5,000 only on the cap, they could recoup that easily just by allowing the EA or 2K to buy some of the players at $5,000 and that would be how they get some of the money to offset this additional $5,000. Granted they would probably only buy the top say 100 players or so, but if there is a cap of 5,000 there will probably be more advertising with the players not less to help them afford this and more. Maybe I am incorrect in this assessment, but this was the first thing that came to my mind upon reading this article.

  18. charger383 says: Aug 9, 2014 11:25 AM

    If NCAA had not gone on it’s holy witch hunts, money that did not come from school or tax funds would have continued to find it’s way to players and this problem would have never come up.

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