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Friday, May 6, 2011
Ed O'Bannon's NCAA antitrust lawsuit lives

By Diamond Leung

Former UCLA star Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit against the NCAA will proceed after a federal judge dismissed claims against Electronic Arts Inc. but refused to do so with the NCAA and Collegiate Licensing Co.

O'Bannon is leading a group of former college athletes in an antitrust lawsuit filed in 2009 over the use of their images and likenesses. There are signs that it could be getting increasingly uncomfortable for the NCAA. According to USA Today, NCAA president Mark Emmert faces a deposition date.
Jon T. King, a lawyer for the players, also has filed notice to take the deposition of NCAA President Mark Emmert on June 22, though that could change slightly depending on Emmert's schedule, King said.

"As the plaintiffs well know, Dr. Emmert was not at the NCAA during the time period at issue in this lawsuit," the NCAA's Bob Williams said in an e-mail to USA TODAY. "The plaintiff's notice of his deposition at this point is inappropriate, and we will take action accordingly."

Emmert became NCAA president in October 2010.

The case is scheduled for trial in March 2013, but fact discovery is scheduled for completion by late January 2012, King said.

The lawsuit has gotten notoriety for its potential game-changing effects on how the NCAA conducts business. The organization currently bars players from being paid during their college careers.

According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, a recent poll found that nearly half of the 300 football and men's basketball players surveyed said they didn't understand they had signed away their rights to commercial use of their images without receiving a share of the proceeds.
The athletes' confusion didn’t stop with the form. Fifty-four percent of the survey's respondents thought that by appearing in video games bearing their images or likenesses, they were endorsing those commercial goods, said Anastasios Kaburakis, an assistant professor of management and sports business at Saint Louis University and the study's lead author.

"They weren’t getting any money, but they still felt they were actually endorsing the product," he said in a phone interview.

Despite the confusion, 97 percent of respondents liked being featured in video games, and two-thirds believed that the way the NCAA and video-game companies used their image or likeness was fair. But only 33 percent believed that their athletic scholarship was sufficient payment for the use of their image or likeness.