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NCAA athletes can pursue television money, judge rules

A California judge ruled Tuesday that the NCAA cannot prevent football and men's basketball players from legally pursuing a portion of live broadcast revenues, reports ESPN.com.

Judge Claudia Wilken rejected the NCAA's motion that players in the anti-trust suit led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon should be precluded from advancing their lawsuit on procedural grounds. The NCAA's filed a 33-page motion last October to strike the certification motion. A certification hearing has been set for June 20, and Wilken ordered the NCAA to make arguments against class certification on the merits rather than procedural objections.

"Now the (NCAA and its co-defendants) are facing potential liability in the billions of dollars instead of tens or hundreds of millions," said Michael Hausfeld, interim lead counsel for the plaintiffs. "It's a more accurate context for what the players deserve."

Players who play collegiate sports don't have a union to help them negotiate share of revenues that come from media and other licensing contracts. Plaintiffs in the O'Bannon suit sued the NCAA, Collegiate Licensing Company and EA Sports over the commercialized use of athletes' image, name and likeness.

"Although our motion to strike was denied, the judge has signaled skepticism on plaintiff's class-certification motion and recognized the plaintiffs' radical change in their theory of the case," NCAA general counsel Donald Remy said. "This is a step in the right direction toward allowing the NCAA to further demonstrate why this case is wrong on the law and that plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that this case satisfies the criteria for class litigation."

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