Law & Policy: Governing Bodies
Judge Sends O'Bannon Class Action Against NCAA to Trial
by Emily Attwood February 2014
Remember Ed O'Bannon, the former UCLA basketball player who filed suit against the NCAA more than four years ago, alleging it was profiting off of O’Bannon and other NCAA athletes’ likenesses found in EA Sports video games? After a long and winding road, a federal judge has okayed the class-action suit to go to trial, setting a start date of June 9.
While it is still possible a settlement between the NCAA and the plaintiffs will be reached prior to the start of the trial, the outcome of the lawsuit could have drastic consequences for the NCAA, college athletic conferences and television networks. At the heart of the lawsuit is the NCAA rule that prohibits student-athletes from profiting off of the use of their name, likeness or image.
"We're not asking for any money to be paid," said Michael Hausfeld, attorney for the plaintiffs, during a summary judgment hearing on Thursday. "We are asking for the restraint to be removed ... and then the market will determine how it plays out."
In January 2013, the lawsuit expanded to allow current athletes to join, as well as target other entities profiting off of athletes’ likenesses, including conferences and television networks. The plaintiffs are in the process of working out settlement details in their suit against EA Sports.
Thursday’s hearing took into account various arguments by both sides, including the NCAA’s assertion that the First Amendment protected it from requiring athletes’ permission to broadcast their appearances at games. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken also called into question whether the NCAA’s no-pay rule violated antitrust laws.
"Up to this point you always heard the NCAA argue that these restraints are lawful -- purportedly," Hausfeld said. "We're done with that. There's no presumptions. This court is saying if we go to trial, you're going to have to prove that."
Should a jury rule in favor of the plaintiffs, the results could bankrupt the NCAA, though a lengthy appeals process would first ensue. A less drastic outcome could result in concessions from both sides, with restrictions on athletes’ ability to profit from their likenesses removed or lessened, or schools agreeing to set aside a portion of revenues for athletes.
Florida HS Transfer Eligibility Lawsuit Spurs Agreement
by Paul Steinbach November 2013
A football player who last week sued his school district over a year-old transfer policy will drop his suit in exchange for playing eligibility.
Bill Boosts Native American Mascot Defense
by Michael Gaio November 2013
The Wisconsin Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would make it harder to force public schools to drop American Indian nicknames. Senate Republicans passed the bill 17-16. It will now go to Republican Governor Scott Walker's desk for approval.
NCAA (Finally) Issues Punishment Against U. of Miami
by Michael Gaio October 2013
It's been more than two years, but the NCAA finally issued its punishment on the University of Miami following an investigation into the school's athletic department.
Lax Reporting Sparks Revisions to Mass. Concussion Law
by Emily Attwood July 2013
Less than a third of Massachusetts schools turned in reports last year on sports-related concussions and head injuries as required by state law, but even the small amount of data collected demonstrates that concussions among student-athletes pose a significant health issue.
Minnesota Statute Offers New Protection for Coaches Under Fire from Parents
by Michael Popke June 2013
The day after Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill in late May adding a new layer of protection for high school coaches besieged by upset parents, John Erickson had three simple words: "We got it."
NFL's Goodell, Idaho School Diverge on Use of 'Redskins'
by Michael Popke — AB Managing Editor June 2013
While NFL commissioner Roger Goodell defends the controversial name of the Washington Redskins, a school superintendent in Idaho has announced that sports teams for Teton High School will no longer be called the "Redskins."
Texas Pushes for Review of State HS Association
by Michael Popke — AB Managing Editor May 2013
Just weeks after time ran out in the Florida Legislature, where proposed bills could have significantly restricted the authority of the Florida High School Athletic Association, another state association's future hangs in the balance.
Eighth-Grade Basketball Player's Hair a Federal Court Case
by John T. Wolohan May 2013
As a general rule, the courts will not get involved in the internal decision-making process of pri-vate athletic associations.
NFHS, FHSAA: Bills Would Damage High School Sports
by Michael Popke — AB Managing Editor April 2013
The Florida High School Athletic Association - under fire by state lawmakers - announced Thursday the support of the National Federation of State High School Associations in the FHSAA's efforts to fight proposed legislation that both organizations claim would damage the integrity of high school sports in Florida and potentially across the nation.