SBD/March 29, 2013/Colleges

Ed O'Bannon Lawsuit Seemingly Gaining Steam As June Court Date Looms

It has been three years since former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon filed an antitrust suit against the NCAA, and there have been “signs lately that it’s scaring the smugness and sanctimony right out of the NCAA,” according to Dave D’Alessandro of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. UCLA and the NCAA to this day “maintain that they own his likeness in perpetuity, because O’Bannon signed a legal release at age 17 that granted such license.” But O’Bannon said, "A 17-year-old kid doesn’t know what he’s doing, and to sign something of that magnitude without legal representation is manipulation the second you’re handed the pen. When you sign a letter of intent, you just want to play ball -- that’s where my mind-set was.” D’Alessandro writes an NCAA defeat in court would “not only force the cartel to hand over billions, it would threaten the existence of the NCAA itself, as college sports would have to adopt a market-based model.” The next “big court date is June 20, a certification hearing that will decide whether the case will go forward as a class action -- one that includes" the likes of Basketball HOFers Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson. O’Bannon: "My initial thought was that if my likeness was sold, there should be compensation. But where the lawsuit has branched off is really way beyond what I expected." The NCAA last month "offered to provide its student-athletes a $300 annual stipend -- a pittance, of course, but the first concession that they recognize that they’re headed toward a pay-for-play model.” O’Bannon: "I’m only trying to do what’s right. ... I appreciated the free education, and I’m proud to have my degree. But with the amount of money that’s brought into each institution and the imbalance in compensation, there’s just something wrong with this picture" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 3/29).
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