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NCAA Athletes Seek Class Action Suit; Could Cal Have Prevented It?


Former UCLA Bruin Ed O’Bannon and friends are taking a personal lawsuit to a whole different level.  After filing against the NCAA for using their names and images for profit, without giving them a penny, the group now seeks to turn the suit into a class action, ramping up the NCAA’s possible liability exponentially.

There are all sorts of strategic reasons for the athletes’ decision; not the least of which is getting the biggest slice of the pie as the class representatives should any money get turned over.  But with all the pressure the NCAA could be facing, this sounds like John Calipari’s chance to say, “I told you so,” because he’s been an advocate for paying players for years.

Don’t remember?  Check out this Deadspin article from a couple years ago where Cal talks about this exact thing:

[NCAA schools] didn’t want to spend the money. … There should be a living expense that an athlete gets to go to a school.  Some will say, ‘Well they get a Pell!’ That’s the poor kids. Three of the kids I have on my team now aren’t poor enough to get the Pell, but their parents don’t have money to send to them. … What do you do with those kids?

The NCAA says that scholarships should be enough, and paying these kids would “ruin amateur athletics.”  But would it really?  And even if they think that, if this class gets certified and goes to trial, the ramifications might be more expensive than they can afford.

The issue isn’t necessarily that the athletes weren’t getting paid, it’s that the schools were.  If this was a D-2 basketball program that was struggling to sell tickets (unlike UCLA, a D-1 program struggling to sell tickets), this wouldn’t be an issue.  But the schools that these athletes attend are raking in millions of dollars, and the athletes are getting in trouble for selling their own stuff.  So, just to be clear: the athletes aren’t allowed to use their popularity for monetary benefit, but the schools can?

Cal, ever the visionary, might well have predicted a scenario like this one.  He certainly helped out the NCAA by suggesting the solution long before this was ever so big a problem, though.  For that, they should probably thank him.

Buuuut I bet they won’t.

Article written by Corey Nichols

12 Comments for NCAA Athletes Seek Class Action Suit; Could Cal Have Prevented It?

  1. Mark LIptak
    6:25 pm June 20, 2013 Permalink

    Sports Illustrated with the two Detroit Tigers on the cover had a good story on how screwed up things are at the NCAA right now under Mark Emmert. It’s so bad it’s almost comical. They look specifically at the “enforcement division” but what is going on can apply to all areas of that organization.

    The superconferences can’t come soon enough for me.

    Mark Liptak

  2. JackB
    6:37 pm June 20, 2013 Permalink

    I think this could be expensive for the NCAA but it is not that hard to work with. How hard is it to not use former players in your ads and video games? Not that hard really. Or, use a small set of former players and pay them. For example, blur and crop out everyone but Laetner on that friggin’ shot for the NCAA tourney ads and pay him. Give that Valpo kid a check for his great buzzer beater, and blur/crop everyone else. Now you have two highlights for your ads and you only have to stroke two checks – not checks to the entire teams. The rest of the ads can be from current teams that season – and you don’t have to pay those kids squat.

    NCAA won’t have to pay for, during the broadcast, footage from prior games because that is “news” about past events. Probably falls under “fair use.”

    It’s only the ads and the products they sell with former player likeness. The video games are a line-item income producer. If the “legend” teams are in demand then pay the players you use for those teams from those limited proceeds.

    The NCAA is Chicken Little on this. Yes, it will be very expensive if behavior is unchanged, but it could be manageable if they had to do it and changed their approach to using former player’s likeness.

  3. UKBlue
    6:50 pm June 20, 2013 Permalink

    This is one of the first of many fatal blows to the ultimate dismantling of the NCAA.

    7:02 pm June 20, 2013 Permalink


  5. RickInTx
    7:12 pm June 20, 2013 Permalink

    4. How are you going to pay them? Does every student-athlete receive the same amount? Who actually pays? Each school or the governing body? Where does the money come from? It is easy to say “PAY THESE KIDS”, but it has to be done in a way that doesn’t screw up the competitive balance, such that it is.

  6. Corey Davis
    7:17 pm June 20, 2013 Permalink

    This is adverse to me for one shallow reason…we haven’t had a college basketball video game published since NCAA 10 in 2009. Not a chance we’ll see one published anytime soon as this continues.

  7. SevenT
    7:31 pm June 20, 2013 Permalink

    Quit pretending these “players” are students who are there to get an education. Most of the dumb jocks can barely spell their own name. There are of course exceptions to the rule. But by and large the D-1 major revenue players are enrolled in the progrms like “sports management” or “social justice” or some other make believe program that will pass a moron.

    Just Saying

  8. Stooooooops
    7:37 pm June 20, 2013 Permalink

    5) I agree that it will be a mess to pay these kids, but the NCAA is the only multi-million dollar industry in America that doesn’t pay the work hands!

  9. Pay These Kids
    9:10 pm June 20, 2013 Permalink

    The matter of who gets payed how much is a different question for smarter folks than I, but the fact that the NCAA rakes in big money while these kids do all the work is criminal. And don’t give me that BUT THEY GET AN EDUCATION sh*t when people with degrees can’t find work. These kids deserve the same rights as their fellow students.

  10. 8 >Seven even with a T
    9:37 pm June 20, 2013 Permalink

    Slow your role #7. Sports management requires classes in marketing, facility management, sport governance, sports law just to name a few. On the other, I think you mean Justice Administration which is what most policeman major in. I don’t know if you can spell your own name or if you were a dumb jock, but you are obviously ignorant.

  11. Andy
    10:02 pm June 20, 2013 Permalink

    5. You pay them the same way everyone else gets paid, based on performance. My entire life ive heard ppl say oh u cant pay them, cause then you’d have to pay the women’s cross country team too… Cause heckly tech couldnt pay the same as Uk… Uh, really? Is this soviet russia? Doesnt everyone alive get paid based on their worth to their employer? THAT is fair right? Or is it “fair” to not pay them because “not everyone could pay the same” or because “if u pay the ball players youd have to pay the others too?” Tomorrow at work ima demand a raise and give this reason; “it’s not fair that someone who matters more to the company gets more moneys than me”

  12. dsparklender
    6:36 am June 21, 2013 Permalink

    has anyone checked on the price of an education lately? I looked at the student loans that a friend had recently and it was over 100k. they are getting paid if they use what the school is teaching. I agree that AFTER they leave school and their likeness is being used for a profit they should get paid but a nominal amount while they are still in school. If not I can see a day when a player that is playing a minor non profit sport sues the school for not paying them as much as the basketball/football player. Or when a male player is making more than a female player. We are getting ready to open a can of worms that will be hard to control once it is open