Friday June 5th, 2015

A judge in Tennessee threw out a class action lawsuit brought by 10 former college football and basketball players against several television networks and college athletic conferences. The suit alleged those networks and conferences profited from their names and likenesses without their permission.

The lawsuit was filed in October in a federal court in Nashville and listed ESPN, ABC, Fox, CBS, NBC, the SEC, Big Ten Network, Longhorn Network and the William Morris Agency among the defendants.

U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp said the plaintiffs didn’t have sufficient proof of why they are entitled to receive payment from those entities.

The defendants wanted the case dismissed on the grounds that the U.S. Supreme Court had already resolved the antitrust issue in the complaint, and that the NCAA’s amateurism rules do not violate the Sherman Antitrust Act, which prohibits monopolistic business practices.

The lead plaintiff in the case was former Vanderbilt safety Javon Marshall, who with nine other former college athletes, sought to recover damages from ESPN, licensing companies and conferences after alleging that they profited by using the players' names, images and likenesses in advertisements and broadcasts without their consent.

In August, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the NCAA cannot prevent athletes from selling the rights to their names, images and likenesses. NCAA rules prohibit any student-athletes from receiving money from the selling of their names and likenesses.

Wilken ruled that the NCAA could cap payments to players at no less than $5,000 for every year of competition, with the institutions having the option to put the money in a trust until the athlete graduates or exhausts his or her playing eligibility.

- Scooby Axson

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