The NCAA is being sued by former athletes over the continued use of their likeness in commercials, video games, and other forms of profit bearing mediums. As a part of this suit the players are looking to share in the revenue earned from all television broadcasts, not just those that are rebroadcasts.
The NCAA made a legal motion to prevent former football and men’s basketball players from receiving a cut of live broadcast revenues. On Tuesday, as reported by ESPN, Judge Claudia Wilken dismissed the motion. Naturally, legal counsel for the Plaintiffs viewed this dismissal as a huge victory.
“Now the (NCAA and its co-defendants) are facing potential liability that’s based on the billions of dollars in revenue 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.”
Ramogi Huma, president of the National College Players Association was also optimistic.
“Current, former, and future athletes are one step closer to protections and freedoms that other American citizens are permitted,” Huma said in a statement to ESPN. “It’s great that the NCAA and its members have been able to capitalize monetarily on the publicity rights of their athletes, but there is no justification to deny them a portion of the benefits. The FCAA will be prepared to ensure that athletes ultimately receive what is rightfully theirs as Americans in a capitalistic, free market society.”
Should the former players win, a system has been set up for players to collect licensing revenues. The Former College Athletes Association would work out agreements with the NCAA, member colleges, video game and media companies to compensate players for the use of their likenesses.
If won, the impact of this lawsuit would be huge! I can’t even begin to think how it will change the face of college athletics. I have always seen a troubling discrepancy in colleges, coaches, athletic directors, the media, and the many others making millions off of the talent of college athletes while they intern get a “free education.”
This system of free labor may be coming to an end and with it college sports as we know it, a possibility that seems bitter-sweet to me.