O'Bannon was a basketball star at UCLA in the 1990s, but for the last few months he's been a lead plaintiff in a class-action antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA. The suit claims that the NCAA should have paid he and his fellow big-time athletes for the use of their likenesses in video games.
The names of other former college athletes, some of whom played as far back as the 1960s, will be revealed today, giving more substance to the charge that the NCAA has, for decades, withheld hundreds of millions, perhaps even billions of dollars, from athletes. It made this money by merchandising players in not only video games, but DVDs, apparel, memorabilia, and other profit realms.
The NCAA, a nonprofit entity, must now open its books, and that's just the start. At trial, King maintains that the NCAA must somehow convince the court that it possesses an exemption from antitrust law. After all, NCAA members, which are the colleges, agree to do something collectively -- specifically,
So here's the nub for the NCAA: Explain the exemption that absolves the organization from compensating players for their labor.
So far, the NCAA, whose office is in Indianapolis, has spent a great deal of pretrial energy trying desperately to get the case shifted from San Francisco to its home court in Indiana. However, its effort did not pay off, as Federal Judge
The outlook is bleak. The 2009 decision to award retired NFL players compensation for the use of their likeness in video games must surely hang over the NCAA's head. If old pros should be paid for the appropriation of their personages, why shouldn't old collegians?
King said he can only imagine the NCAA's defense being "a protection of amateurism." But in the last four decades or so, that old-world, upper-class concept has been abandoned in virtually all other high-profile, big-money sports -- first in tennis and then several Olympic sports. It simply seems illogical that American college football and basketball players still must lift the bale and tote the barge of amateurism by themselves.