Ed O'Bannon v. NCAA class certification hearing: What's at stake?

Wednesday June 19th, 2013
Ex-UCLA player Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit against the NCAA could change the landscape of college sports.
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

If this case were only about the NCAA's and EA Sports' use of likenesses of former players, it wouldn't be such a big deal. That was the original intent of O'Bannon's suit. The former UCLA basketball star didn't understand why he wasn't being paid when the NCAA and EA Sports used his likeness in videos and video games. This seemed fairly cut and dried. The older EA Sports games featured "classic teams." So if someone played as the 1980 Georgia team in the college football game, that team had a freshman running back who dominated, wore No. 34 and had exactly the same skin tone as Herschel Walker. Only a fool would believe RB34 wasn't modeled after Walker, who, like all the other former players at that time, didn't receive a cut of the profits. (This has since changed. When NCAA Football 14 is released next month, it will feature the likenesses of more than 1,400 former players -- all of whom have been paid for the rights to their likeness. This is not a coincidence.) If this case were only about this issue, the NCAA and EA Sports probably would just settle with the former players and promise never to trade on their likenesses again. (This is different from current players, many of whom sign forms that allow their schools and conferences to trade on their likenesses while they're in school.) The defendants were clearly in the wrong for several years, and the players are entitled to damages. The settlement would be expensive, but it certainly wouldn't bankrupt anyone.

STAPLES: What's at stake? Who's involved? A complete O'Bannon case primer

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