I was very excited to read about this recent decision by a federal judge:
A federal judge certified a class-action lawsuit Friday aimed at the heart of the "amateur" status of college athletics, hoping to force the NCAA to give student-athletes a share of the lucrative licensing fees paid by video game makers for their likenesses.
The suit, In Re NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Licensing Litigation, was filed by twenty-five current and former student-athletes in 2009 who played for NCAA Division I men’s football and basketball teams between 1953 and today. Most of the plaintiffs allege that the NCAA violated federal antitrust law by conspiring with video game makers Electronic Arts and broadcasters to restrain competition in the market for the commercial use of their names, images, and likenesses. Four of the group have accused EA and the NCAA of appropriating their likenesses in games in violation of their rights.
Friday, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken of California’s Northern District ruled that the lawsuit may go forward as a class. If it is successful, the NCAA may be obligated to place a portion of the fees it receives from EA into a trust fund for student athletes, to be paid to them after they end their college athletic eligibility. Student-athletes may also be able to negotiate separate deals for payment with game makers, which would upend the amateur model in college athletics.
Sadly, this same judge also ruled that it would be virtually impossible to hold the NCAA accountable for their past decades of outright theft from NCAA players, saying it would be too hard to sort it all out. That, of course, is true. It's much more efficient to keep money in piles where it can more easily be monitored. Splitting it up and distributing it to the people who actually earned it is much too difficult and would force the NCAA accountants to come up with an entirely new system of accounting, one which would include Accounts Payable, a concept they are not familiar with.
Needless to say, expect NCAA members to abolish the concept of student-athletes if this class action suit is successful. Future college teams will be comprised exclusively of "interns," who, of course, will not be paid because — hey, we're talking about a major learning opportunity here!
Oh, and in keeping with CH traditions, %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%.