SBD/January 30, 2013/Colleges

Federal Judge Rules Not To End Ed O'Bannon Case Against NCAA, EA Sports, CLC

The attorney representing former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon and other former collegiate athletes in an antitrust lawsuit over commercialized use of college athletes’ names and likenesses claimed a "significant victory" yesterday when a California federal judge "denied the NCAA's early attempt to prevent the case from becoming a class action," according to Jon Solomon of the BIRMINGHAM NEWS. The ruling "doesn't grant the ex-players certification in their suit" against the NCAA, Collegiate Licensing Co. and EA Sports. But the decision "staves off the NCAA's attempt to end the case now after filing a 33-page motion last October to strike the certification motion." A certification hearing has "been set for June 20." The NCAA said that, instead of "only claiming ex-athletes were damaged from the use of their image, name and likeness on archived video and merchandise, the plaintiffs had added current players and live TV footage." U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken "ruled that was not reason to prevent the ex-players from moving for class certification." A certification expert for the plaintiffs last fall "proposed that current and former football and men's basketball players should receive 50 percent of television revenue from the NCAA and its members." The NCAA claimed that "including current players was a 'dramatic expansion' of the damaged class." The ruling "keeps in play the possibility of current athletes joining the suit" (AL.com, 1/29).

IF THE FORMER PLAYERS WIN: ESPN.com's Tom Farrey reports in the event the plaintiffs prevail in the case, their attorney Michael Hausfeld has "set up a mechanism for players to collect licensing revenues." Former Hausfeld LLC lawyer Jon King, who worked on the case, said that the Former College Athletes Association (FCAA) would "negotiate licenses with the NCAA, member colleges, video game and media companies." King "disclosed the existence of the FCAA in a wrongful termination suit he filed against Hausfeld earlier this month" (ESPN.com, 1/30).
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