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NCAA lawyers look to prevent the O’Bannon case from becoming a class action lawsuit

Oct 18, 2012, 11:33 AM EDT

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According to Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, lawyers representing the NCAA are working hard to make sure the suit being filed against them by some former college athletes isn’t certified as a class action lawsuit.

The NCAA is alleging that the plaintiffs, led by former athletes such as Ed O’Bannon and Sam Keller, have changed their strategy in a manner that has cost the governing body “significant time and money.”

This case has been in the courts since 2009 and isn’t expected to go to trial until June 2014, with the 16 named plaintiffs seeking damages from the NCAA, Electronic Arts and the Collegiate Licensing Company.

The former players allege that the defendants violated anti-trust law by conspiring to fix at zero the amount of compensation athletes can receive for the use of their names, images and likenesses in products or media while they are in school. They also are challenging the NCAA’s practice of requiring athletes to sign forms under which they allegedly relinquish in perpetuity all rights pertaining to the use of their names, images and likenesses in ways including TV contracts, rebroadcasts of games, and video game, jersey and other apparel sales.

According to NCAA attorney Robert J. Wierenga the defense has produced nearly 92,000 documents, and many of those would have no value were the motion filed by the plaintiffs for class certification on August 31 granted.

What would the granting of the plaintiffs’ motion mean? It would allow other “qualified litigants” to join the lawsuit, and in turn require the defense attorneys to do even more digging for evidence.

This is a case many folks saw as one that could have a major impact on how collegiate athletics are run when first filed, but it’s one that has moved at a snail’s pace.

Raphielle is also the assistant editor at CollegeHoops.net and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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