SBD/September 5, 2012/Colleges

O'Bannon Petitions To Include Current Players In Lawsuit Against NCAA

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Former UCLA F Ed O'Bannon on Friday took his lawsuit against the NCAA regarding the use of former players’ names, images and likenesses “one step further," seeking in a court filing permission to "expand the class action to include current D-I football and men's basketball players,” according to Michael McCann of SI.com. O'Bannon is not asking that current players "be paid while in college," but he wants a "temporary trust set up for monies generated by the licensing and sale of their names, images and likenesses." Players could access the funds “at the completion of their collegiate careers.” Under O'Bannon's proposed trust, when a current player finishes college, they “would receive money for four years' use of his name, image and likeness.” Players "would receive half of the NCAA's broadcasting revenue and one-third of video game revenue, with the remainder of revenue staying with the NCAA, conferences and colleges.” The formula would mean that four-year players "would likely accrue thousands or tens of thousands of dollars -- if not more -- in their trusts." U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathaniel Cousins “will soon hold hearings to determine an appropriate class” for the suit. If Cousins grants O'Bannon's request, "any current or former D-I football or men's basketball player could join the lawsuit.” O'Bannon dismissed the "series of documents student-athletes are required to sign as part of their participation in college sports,” which requires the acceptance of the NCAA's "use of their name, image and licensing.” He calls these forms “'contracts of adhesion' or unenforceable no-choice contracts.” The desired expansion of O'Bannon's lawsuit “may not end with D-I football and men's basketball players." If O'Bannon succeeds, "expect him to eventually go for it all -- a class that would include all current and former D-I athletes” (SI.com, 9/1).

NEW EVIDENCE IN PLAY? ESPN.com’s Tom Farrey noted "no monetary figures" were disclosed in O'Bannon's motion. A source said that the "new angle could deliver ‘hundreds of thousands’ of dollars each year to Division I basketball players.” Football players, who are "more plentiful, could get less." Asked the reason for making a case for current players now, the source said, "Now we have evidence. And so much more has happened since we originally filed our lawsuit -- new media deals, new scandals” (ESPN.com, 9/2).
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