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NCAA athletes can pursue money from TV contracts, judge says

Jan 30, 2013, 11:13 AM EST

NCAA_Logo AP

A federal court judge dismissed a NCAA motion on Tuesday that would have prevented football and men’s basketball players from pursuing a cut of the billions of dollars of live television contracts on procedural grounds, according to a report from ESPN.com.

Former UCLA star Ed O’Bannon had brought a lawsuit against the NCAA to try and claim a share of rebroadcast revenues, but recently amended the suit to include the revenue from live broadcasts. The NCAA will argue against the class certification based on merits in a hearing on June 20th.

“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 in a statement. “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.”

From ESPN.com’s report:

In the event that the plaintiffs prevail, [Michael Hausfeld, interim lead counsel for the plaintiffs], has set up a mechanism for players to collect licensing revenues. The Former College Athletes Association (FCAA) would negotiate licenses with the NCAA, member colleges, video game and media companies, according to Jon King, a former Hausfeld LLC lawyer who worked on the case.

King disclosed the existence of the FCAA in a wrongful termination suit he filed against Hausfeld earlier this month. He was fired by Hausfeld for undisclosed reasons in October, after serving as one of the lead lawyers in developing the case for the plaintiffs.

Details about the FCAA are scant, but Hausfeld said it would not serve as a revenue stream for his firm. Overseeing formation of the FCAA are Sonny Vaccaro, an unpaid consultant who has worked with Hausfeld to build the anti-trust case; Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association; and Ken Feinberg, a prominent Washington D.C. attorney who helped distribute nearly $7 billion to victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has run other major victim compensation efforts.

Wilken has set a trial date for June of 2014. It will be interesting to see if the case makes it that far.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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