Judge Rejects NCAA Motion to Stop Anti-Trust Suit Filed by Ex-Players
A federal court judge has dismissed a motion by the NCAA to prevent football and men's basketball players from legally claiming a cut from live broadcast revenues.
Judge Claudia Wilken rejected the NCAA's motion to stop players led by former UCLA star Ed O'Bannon from pursuing their anti-trust lawsuit on procedural ground, ESPN.com reported.
"Now the NCAA and its co-defendants are facing potential liability in the billions of dollars instead of tens or hundreds of millions," said Michael Hausfeld, interim lead counsel for the plaintiffs. "It's a more accurate context for what the players deserve."
Hausfeld leads a team that includes more than a dozen law firms that have invested more than $20 million in legal fees pursuing the lawsuit against the NCAA since 2009.
College players lack a union or similar body to negotiate a share of revenues flowing from media and other licensing contracts as the NCAA does not legally treat them as employees. Also, the players have not organized to represent their interests collectively.
O'Bannon filed a class-action suit to question that model, which is now the subject the case before Wilken.
Several former college stars, led by Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson, have joined O'Bannon and asked Wilken to declare that they are similarly situated and to certify the class.
Wilken has set the hearing on that motion for June 20, and ordered the NCAA to make its arguments against class certification on the merits rather than procedural objections such as the one she just rejected.
NCAA general counsel Donald Remy characterized the ruling as a partial victory for the league.
"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," Remy said.
"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," Remy added.
If it gets that far, Wilken set a jury trial on the matter for June 2014.
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