Thursday, February 3, 2011

NBA Legend Oscar Robertson Joins Ed O'Bannon Lawsuit against NCAA

Ed O'Bannon's class action lawsuit against the NCAA, which centers on the NCAA's use and licensing of former college players' images and other identifying characteristics, received a boost last week, when Hall of Fame guard Oscar Robertson - the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double (30.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg, 11.4 apg in 1961-62) -- joined O'Bannon as a plaintiff.

As Libby Sander's discusses in her Chronicles of Higher Education article, the 72-year-old Robertson, who played at the University of Cincinnati until 1960, objects to the NCAA and his alma mater still licensing his image for their financial gain, without his permission, after all these years.

Just check out the Amazon page for his Donruss "American Legends" basketball card, depicting Robertson's days as a college player. Robertson receives no compensation for the cards (unlike his NBA cards).

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports has more on the Robertson addition and other new co-plaintiffs:

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“The arrogance of the NCAA to say, ‘we have the right to do this,’ … is what troubles me the most,” Robertson told Yahoo! Sports on Wednesday. “The University of Cincinnati gets a fee each time my picture is used on a card. I don’t. When I played there, there was nothing like this ever agreed to.”

Robertson put his considerable reputation on the line Wednesday and joined a 2009 class action suit against the NCAA, first championed by former UCLA Bruin star Ed O’Bannon, as a name plaintiff.

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Joining Robertson in the additional complaint is former Connecticut player Tate George, whose buzzer-beating shot over Clemson in the 1990 NCAA tournament has been resold in DVDs and featured in advertising campaigns for Vitamin Water, McDonald’s, Burger King, Buick, Chrysler, and Cadillac. It was recently used in an online advertising campaign to sell Egg McMuffins.

Also now on board is former Ohio State football player Ray Ellis, who starred in the 1980 Rose Bowl. A number of games he participated in are being sold on commemorative DVDs or rebroadcast on the Big Ten Network.

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To read the current complaint, click here. To read an column I wrote on the case, click here.