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A federal judge granted class-action status in the damages section of an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA on Friday. This decision has significant implications, potentially holding the association accountable for a substantial payout – potentially worth billions of dollars – to both past and present college athletes.
Judge Claudia Wilken of the Northern District of California is presiding over the House vs. the NCAA case. Her previous rulings in NCAA cases have been instrumental in enabling college athletes to profit from their popularity and allowing universities to allocate more funds to them.
The lawsuit, initiated in 2020 by Arizona State swimmer Grant House, primarily challenges the NCAA’s restrictions on name, image, and likeness compensation. Other plaintiffs in the case include TCU women’s basketball player Sedona Prince and former Illinois football player Tymir Oliver.
If the NCAA loses the case, Judge Wilken’s recent ruling could potentially make over 14,000 current and former college athletes eligible to seek damages.
The attorneys representing the plaintiffs argue that athletes who were previously barred from capitalizing on their fame, before the lifting of the NIL ban in 2021, are entitled to compensation for the earnings they could have made.
The plaintiffs’ attorneys are also targeting the billions of dollars generated from media rights revenue, particularly from football and basketball players whose sports drive the value of these deals for the NCAA and the five wealthiest college sports conferences.
If the NCAA faces defeat, it might be obligated to implement revenue sharing, similar to professional sports, for the massive television deals associated with major college football programs and March Madness. This is due to the utilization of players’ names, images, and likenesses.
“Our request to the court, on behalf of the class, is to eliminate all current restrictions on NIL. The most significant is the rule that prohibits conferences from compensating students for their NIL,” explained Steve Berman, one of the lead plaintiffs’ attorneys and a recurring adversary of the NCAA, in an interview with AP last month.
Alex Martin is your guide to the global phenomenon of football. With a focus on international leagues and tournaments, he provides match commentary, player interviews, and behind-the-scenes stories from the world of football.