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NCAA Sued Over Use of Likeness of Athletes

Soon after a recent court ruling came out, the NCAA gave EA Sports notice that they will not be redoing the contract with them for their future games. In other words, NCAA Football will now be called "College Football" and will no longer use the NCAA logo. It should be noted that while those games try to have a similar roster as the ones in real life, they do not use the actual names of the athletes. A pending lawsuit against the NCAA has led to this decision.

Attorneys representing former or current NCAA college athletes have filed an antitrust suit against the NCAA. Recently, the judge ruled that the lawyers will be allowed to amend their complaint to add a new plaintiff who is a current NCAA athlete. Prior to this ruling, former NCAA athlete Ed O'Bannon was the only named plaintiff. The attorney is attempting to get the case certified as a class action lawsuit. They are suing because of the use of athletes' images, names and likeness without providing the athletes any compensation.

Apparently, there are many athletes in the wings waiting to join the lawsuit. The recent ruling paves the way, although it hasn't been certified yet as a class action lawsuit. The Defendants' attorneys claim that it shouldn't be classified as a class action suit because the plaintiffs have made unfair changes in their legal strategy. Personally, as an attorney, I don't think that argument holds enough muster.

If the plaintiffs were to prevail, it could mean billions of dollars in damages, which would severely cripple the NCAA. The speculation is that monies would be paid to the athletes, but put in trust for the athletes until they leave school. Alas, college athletes aren't supposed to be paid. Of course, the problem is, even if you hold it in trust until later, they are still technically being "paid." For example, if my employer pays into my retirement fund, does that not count toward them "paying" me? However, many people argue that athletes are paid vie room, board, scholarships, and tuition, not to mention side payments we only sometimes hear about.