Federal Judge Denies NCAA Motions to Dismiss O'Bannon Lawsuit

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistOctober 25, 2013

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An effort by the NCAA and its fellow defendants to get an antitrust lawsuit brought by a group led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon tossed out was denied by a federal judge.


Updates for Friday, Nov. 8th

USA Today's Steve Berkowitz has the latest:

A federal judge on Friday partially granted class action status in a lawsuit concerning the use of college athletes' names and likenesses.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the plaintiffs, including former and current Division I men's basketball players and Football Bowl Subdivision players, will be allowed to challenge the NCAA's current restrictions on what athletes may receive in exchange for playing sports. The ruling sets up the prospect of a fundamental change in scholarship rules and the concept of amateurism.


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Steve Berkowitz of USA Today reports U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled none of the arguments provided by the NCAA were enough to dismiss the lawsuit at this stage. The next step will be determining whether to certify it as a class-action case.

Wilken said that a 1984 Supreme Court ruling that the NCAA has relied upon to preserve its amateurism system "does not stand for the sweeping proposition that student-athletes must be barred, both during their college years and forever thereafter, from receiving any monetary compensation for the commercial use of their names, images, and likenesses. Although it is possible that the NCAA's ban on student-athlete pay serves some procompetitive purpose, such as increasing consumer demand for college sports, Plaintiffs' plausible allegations to the contrary must be accepted as true at the pleading stage."

The case surrounds the use of players' names and likenesses in video games involving college sports and on the broadcasts of games featuring collegiate athletes.

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The NCAA argued First Amendment rights and state laws in California protect the use of any names and likenesses during games, which the judge rejected as cause to discuss the lawsuit, according to the report.

Right now, the NCAA is joined by Electronic Arts, which developed several college video games, and the Collegiate Licensing Company as defendants in the lawsuit. That could soon change, leaving the NCAA alone in its defense.

ESPN reported last month that EA and the Collegiate Licensing Co. reached a $40 million settlement in the case, which could benefit thousands of players. The USA Today report states the agreement must still get approved by several courts before it becomes official.

As the outside companies attempt to finalize their exit from the lawsuit, the NCAA told the paper it is prepared to fight it all the way to the highest court in the land, if necessary.

In late September NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy told USA TODAY Sports that the NCAA is "not prepared to compromise on the case."

"We're prepared to take this all the way to the Supreme Court if we have to," Remy said.

The NCAA hoped its effort to dismiss the lawsuit would have ended the court battle. Instead, the District Judge sided with the O'Bannon group, as the sides await a ruling on class action.