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A district court judge in San Francisco on Monday denied the N.C.A.A.’s motion for dismissal in a class-action lawsuit headed by the former U.C.L.A. basketball star Ed O’Bannon. The ruling leaves the N.C.A.A.’s licensing contracts open to discovery. O’Bannon’s lawyers filed the antitrust suit in July, claiming that former athletes should be compensated for the use of their images and likenesses in television advertisements, video games and on apparel. They said Monday’s ruling was an important first step.
"The key to this order is that it opens the door to the discovery process, and we soon can begin collecting evidence from the NCAA [and its member schools and conferences], taking depositions, and uncovering everything that it wanted to hide and keep from the public’s and athletes' view," said Jon King, partner at Hausfeld LLP, one of the firms handling the class-action suit.
"This is a truly historic day – to our knowledge, no one has ever gotten behind the scenes to examine how student-athletes' current and future rights in their images are divided up and sold," King said. "As Supreme Court Justice Brandeis once stated, ‘Sunshine is the best disinfectant,’ and we’re about to let the sunshine in."