Entertainment & Sports Law

Class ruling in players' suit against the NCAA is a split victory


Ed O'Bannon. File photo by Jacob Kepler.

Both sides declared victory when a federal judge certified a class action on Friday in a suit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association by athletes challenging the use of their likenesses without compensation.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken allowed the class action by current and former Football Bowl Subdivision and Division I men’s basketball players, a victory for the players, report the New York Times and USA Today. But there was a “significant catch,” the Times says: Wilken certified the class for purposes of injunctive relief only.

Wilken refused to certify a class to seek monetary damages partly because it would be difficult to determine which athletes were actually harmed, according to the USA Today story.

The lead plaintiff in the case is Ed O’Bannon, a UCLA basketball star in the 1990s who is now a car salesman in Las Vegas, the ABA Journal reported in July. The athletes must sign a waiver before participating in college athletics that requires them to give up the right to profit from the licensing of their name, image or likeness. The suit alleges an antitrust violation, and says the compensation ban should not apply after the athletes no longer play college sports.

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