NCAA Separation Order
The NCAA is currently facing two related antitrust lawsuits regarding their ban on student-athlete compensation. The first case, brought by former student-athlete and professional athlete Ed O’Bannon, is now set for trial on June 9, 2014. The second case, brought by former student-athlete Sam Keller, is set for March of 2015.
Ed O’Bannon brought his case in 2009, 10 years after his retirement, when he saw his name and likeness being broadcasted by the NCAA during a basketball tournament. O’Bannon is not seeking a monetary award, only an injunction to stop the NCAA from profiting off of his name and likeness. O’Bannon believes that because he is no longer an amateur, the NCAA does not have rights to his personality.
Also, “in this era of the commercialization of college sports and multi-million dollar broadcast contracts, these rules [to ban student-athlete compensation] only serve to exploit the very student athletes that generate the millions of dollars that pad the pockets of the NCAA.” http://www.cnbc.com/id/101707534
The Keller case contests the NCAA’s use of student-athlete likenesses in Electronic Arts video games. The two lawsuits were originally grouped together, however, US District Court Judge Claudia Wilken separated the two trials, scheduling the O’Bannon case for June 9, 2014 and the Keller case for March of 2015. The NCAA subsequently moved to have the cases combined, thus delaying the trial to February 2015. The NCAA also moved, in the alternative, to separate from the O’Bannon trial any evidence relating to the Keller case and video game likeness usage. Judge Wilken denied both motions maintaining both trials’ scheduled start dates.
With the O’Bannon trial set to begin in 11 days, the NCAA’s opportunities to delay are dwindling. Professor of economics at Webster University Pat Rische believes that the players have the momentum and a good chance at winning their suits. The O’Bannon trial will be heard amidst the rising complaints from student-athletes across the nation regarding their lack of compensation. With other significant pending litigation and new suits being filed, this trial will be the first significant step in determining whether student-athletes will be able to receive compensation for their future NCAA competition.