Klein & Wilson

Arguments in O'Bannon trial completed, now a judge will decide

The trial that arguably could change the financial landscape of college athletics, O’Bannon v. NCAA is now in the hands of a federal district court judge. The class action antitrust case began more than four years ago, and has involved hundreds of filings and a 15 day trial. On Thursday, the plaintiff’s class submitted its final argument. Through it, the class reiterated the fundamental problems in the NCAA’s argument and insisted that the class members were on the rights side of the law. 

Meanwhile, the NCAA, which submitted its final argument on Tuesday, maintained that the class members failed to establish that its rules violated federal anti-trust laws. The class claimed that the use of players’ likenesses in video games, live broadcasts of games, as well as rebroadcasts of “classic” games. They essentially argued that the athletes were entitled to a share of the revenue generated through their play on the field.

In addition to their final submissions, the plaintiff’s class filed a proposed order that would ostensibly prohibit the NCAA and its conferences and subdivisions from denying players the right to from licensing deals with third parties so that they can take advantage of the massive advertising deals that will become available. With the ability to profit from their likenesses, college football and basketball players may see an incentive to going to a particular program.

There are other issues at play in this matter, especially with regard to deferred compensation for athletes whose names and likenesses may be used after they are no longer playing with a particular university.

It remains to be seen how the court will rule. 

Source: USA Today.com “Closing briefs are in; O’Bannon case in hands of judge,” Steve Berkowitz, July 11, 2014

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