Five College Baseball Players Suspended for Involvement in Fantasy Sports

Student-athletes need to think twice before accepting their fantasy football league invitations this year. Five players from the University of Richmond’s baseball team have learned this lesson the hard way. The five effected players have begun the 2017 college baseball season suspended by the NCAA for their involvement in a fantasy football league. The NCAA rules state: “You are not eligible to compete if you knowingly participate in any sports wagering activity that involves intercollegiate, amateur or professional athletics, through a bookmaker, a parlay card or any other method employed by organized gambling. Examples of sports wagering include, but are not limited to, the use of a bookmaker or parlay card; Internet sports wagering; auctions in which bids are placed on teams, individuals or contests; and pools or fantasy leagues ...
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Helmet Maker Riddell Accuses Rivals of Delaying Football Helmet Patent Infringement Litigations: Unfair Delay, or Proper Use of a Stay Pending the PTAB Outcome?

Riddell, Inc., a Chicago-based sports equipment maker, urged an Illinois federal court to keep its patent infringement suits moving forward, instead of granting its rival’s motion to stay the cases while the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) reviews the patents at issue. As background, Riddell filed two lawsuits in April, 2016 against Schutt Sports and Xenith, LLC, alleging the competing companies’ football helmets violated Riddell’s “Sports Helmet” patents, patent numbers 8,938,818 and 8,528,118, both issued between 2013 and 2015. Each patent provides detail regarding the helmet’s shape and design. Also, Riddell alleged infringement of its patent 8,813,269 covering the design of the company’s quick-release face guard. Riddell’s motion to combine the two cases was denied, but the judge allowed the two cases to proceed under the same discovery plan ...
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Professional Sports Unions Blast Illinois Workers’ Compensation Proposal

As discussed previously on the Sports and Entertainment Law Insider last month, Illinois has introduced a Senate Bill to limit the age that an injured Illinois professional athlete can collect workers’ compensation benefits to the age of 35. Since that time, professional sports unions have come out strongly in opposition to the measure, including the National Football League’s Player Association (NFLPA) and the Major League Soccer Player’s Union. The NFLPA, after previously warning that the proposed measure could result in free agents being cautioned against going to the Chicago Bears due to the team’s support of the provision, confirmed that it has told players to consider other states’ teams’ offers if contract terms are otherwise similar. The Bears previously played down fears that the NFLPA would take such a step or that ...
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Researchers Attempt to Block NHL’s Attempt to Discredit Head Trauma Research

On March 1, 2017, Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University CTE researcher, filed an affidavit with the Minnesota federal courts that she fears the NHL is seeking research materials to discredit the center’s research on the brain disease CTE. Dr. McKee’s affidavit comes on the heels of the NHL’s motion to compel the center to produce their materials related to their research on the degenerative brain disease. The center’s research will be used by NHL players in a proposed class action lawsuit against the NHL for allowing violent gameplay that puts the athletes at risk for repeated head injuries. The research links these repeated head injuries to a higher risk of developing CTE, and the NHL has taken the stance that there is no such definitive link that has been ...
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Former USC Football Player Urges California Court Not to Dismiss FLSA Class Action Suit

On Monday, February 27, 2017, former USC football player, Lamar Dawson, urged the Northern District of California court not to dismiss his proposed class action lawsuit, in which he seeks wages and overtime pay for Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) players. As background, Dawson filed suit against the NCAA and Pac-12, alleging that the organizations violated the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and California State labor law by underpaying athletes, not paying athletes minimum wages for all hours worked, not paying timely compensation, not offering itemized wage statements, and having athletes work more than eight hours a day and 40 hours per week without paying them over time. Essentially, Dawson argued that the league owes wages to FBS athletes, just as they would to their other employees. In response ...
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California Court Strikes Down NCAA Student-Athletes Document Request on Pac-12 ESports Competitions

A California judge has denied student-athletes’ request for production of PAC-12 Conference’s documents regarding ESports competition between its members schools. As background, the plaintiffs, student-athletes, filed suit against the NCAA regarding its rules that prohibit universities from offering athletic scholarships exceeding a full grant-in-aid — one that covers up to the full cost of attendance. Essentially, the plaintiffs alleged that the value of their scholarships was illegally capped, because the “Power Five” conferences passed NCAA Legislation, in January, 2015, which “allowed for schools to increase the cost of an athletic scholarship to help include expenses beyond tuition such as room and board, books and fees.” On February 14, 2017, the plaintiffs moved for production of the documents, arguing that the documents would undermine the NCAA’s “amateurism defense.” The plaintiffs alleged ...
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Show Me the Money: NCAA Agrees to Pay Over $200 Million to Former Student Athletes

In a historic moment, the NCAA agreed to settle a portion of a massive class-action lawsuit earlier this month. The total amount — $208.7 million — was agreed to by the NCAA to remedy student athletes who competed prior to January 2015, when the five major college athletic conferences, including the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, and Big 12, voted to increase the amount of an athletic scholarship to cover the cost of attending a university. The settlement requires the payment of roughly $6,700 dollars per athlete for those competing between the years of 2009 and 2017. The lawsuit has its origins in 2014, when former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston brought the antitrust suit. Later on, the action was joined to include athletes from a range of sports, ...
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O’Bannon Attorneys Attempt to Cash In with the Ninth Circuit

On February 16, 2017, attorneys for the student-athletes in the infamous O’Bannon case argued in front of the Ninth Circuit that they are entitled to over $42 million in attorney’s fees. The attorney’s obtained an injunction from the district court that the NCAA could not cap student-athlete aid packages at below the full cost of attendance, and that student-athletes could receive up to $5,000 per year in cash payments for use of their name, image, and likeness. However, the appellate court reversed the district court’s ruling that allowed players to receive up to $5,000 after their college career for use of their likeness. The Supreme Court denied a request by both sides for a review of the appellate court’s ruling. Although the 9th Circuit knocked out another portion of the ...
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Are EA’s Visual Representations in Madden Generic Enough to Avoid Liability in Publicity Claim?

In 2010 Michael Davis and other former NFL players filed suit in California, alleging that video game maker Electronic Arts (EA) violated their rights of publicity when it used famous teams from the past in Madden games from 2001 until 2009. In their complaint, the retired players argued that while EA obtained permission from current players to use their names and likeness, the company failed to do so with the retired players. While the former players did not allege that their names actually appeared in the game, they argued that EA’s use of “real-life physical attributes, positions, relative skill and other identifying factors” could be linked back to them. The plaintiffs’ complaint alleged a cause of action pursuant to California Code Section 3344, and also included causes of action under ...
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NCAA Players’ Likeness Suit Attempts to Gain New Life

On February 17, 2017, two former Catholic University basketball players from the 2001 Division III national championship team pleaded for the Ninth Circuit to revive their class action against a website, T3Media, which sold official NCAA photographs from their championship season. The suit commenced in 2012, but was dismissed in 2015 as a District Court judge found that the website did not exceed its copyright and, therefore, was preempted by the Copyright Act. In response to the court’s dismissal, members of professional player unions in the U.S. (ex. NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS) all filed amicus briefs in support of the player’s position. The player unions were concerned that the district court’s ruling would limit the ability of professional athletes to control commercial exploitation of their likeness. In support of their ...
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