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A judge earlier this year refused the NCAA's request to toss out the eight lawsuits filed across the country by former student-athletes. They are now consolidated into a single federal action in San Francisco. The former collegiate athletes accuse the NCAA of antitrust violations, alleging they are prevented from marketing their images because the NCAA locked up their commercial rights forever during their college days.
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U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken said the lawsuits, at first glance, appeared to show the NCAA's "conduct constitutes an unreasonable restraint of trade."
Legal analysts said that ruling will compel the NCAA to turn over many of its business secrets to the players' lawyers. No previous lawsuit has advanced to this stage, said Vermont Law School professor Michael McCann, who specializes in sports law. He said even if the players ultimately lose their cases the documents could add further fuel to the debate over compensating student athletes.
"When we see what kind of money is being tossed around and how much money is made off players," McCann said, "it could invigorate this debate. It will hit at the core issues of amateurism."
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All the lawsuits are seeking class action status to represent untold housands of current and former athletes. Antitrust verdicts are tripled.
"If they are successful, it could mean a lot economically in terms of damages," said Rick Karcher, who directs the Center for Law and Sports at Florida Coastal School of Law.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010
What Impact will Ed O'Bannon and Sam Keller claims have on NCAA?
Paul Ellias of the Associated Press tackles that question in a new article. He interviews Rick and me for the piece. Here are some excerpts: