Everyone knew the moment U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled in favor a group of plaintiffs led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon to give student-athletes their likeness rights, the NCAA would pay.
The second the ruling was made public, conversations began discussing the long-reaching effects of the case on amateurism and how the NCAA would have to adapt.
What wasn’t decided within the ruling was how much the NCAA would have to pay the plaintiffs’ lawyers.
The law firm Hausfeld LLP is seeking $52.4 million in recoverable costs from the NCAA, according to a document obtained by CBSSports.com. The amount will be used to cover attorney fees of $46.8 million and recoverable costs of $5.55 million.
The fees were accumulated during a five-year court battle with the NCAA.
“The resulting injunction will have considerable financial benefits for the class, as it may well amount to tens of millions of dollars each season,” the lawyers wrote. “… Moreover, and of critical importance, this is pioneering litigation — without any precedent and lacking any preceding public enforcement. Plaintiffs’ counsel contributed staggering resources to this litigation despite considerable uncertainty of any recovery.”
The NCAA, which appealed the ruling, was quick to pass the buck in response to the law firm’s request.
“In submitting their request for attorney’s fees, plaintiffs’ counsel notes that they have not thoroughly reviewed the time used to calculate the fees and also concedes that a portion of the amount may be more suitably recovered from the settlement with Electronic Arts Inc. and the Collegiate Licensing Company,” NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said in a statement. “We have agreed with plaintiffs’ counsel that both parties should be given additional time to work through the details of a proper fee submission and have requested that time from the court.”
The NCAA has been making money hand over fist for years by using athletes’ likeness rights without their consent. The law firm’s request seems like a small price to pay.