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Ed O'Bannon suit on track for trial

4/12/2014

Ed O'Bannon's antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA is set to proceed to trial after a federal judge on Friday denied each party's motion for a full ruling in its favor, USA Today Sports reported.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken also denied the plaintiffs' request that she reconsider granting class-action certification to a wide group of athletes, according to the report. In addition, she limited the justifications the NCAA was hoping to use at trial in support of its athlete-compensation ban.

O'Bannon, a former UCLA basketball player, is the lead plaintiff in a group of more than 20 challenging the NCAA's ban on compensating athletes.

Wilken ruled Friday that the NCAA cannot argue the compensation ban provides support for sports other than football and men's basketball. The 48-page ruling also requires the NCAA provide evidence if it wants to argue the ban promotes competitive balance among schools as well as integration of education and athletics, USA Today Sports reported.

The NCAA previously argued the lawsuit does not show the association's rules violate antitrust laws and that athletes' demand for revenue from the licensing of live broadcasts is pre-empted by the First Amendment right to televise newsworthy events.

Wilken addressed the First Amendment issue in Friday's ruling, writing that whether student-athletes "hold any ownership rights in their athletic performances does not depend on the scope of broadcasters' First Amendment rights but, rather, on whether the student-athletes themselves validly transferred their rights of publicity to another party. Because the current record does not demonstrate that all Division I student-athletes validly transferred all of these rights, the First Amendment does not preclude student-athletes from asserting rights of publicity in live broadcasts or re-broadcasts of entire games."

Barring a settlement, the jury trial remains scheduled to begin June 9.

The suit originally named video-game maker Electronic Arts and the Collegiate Licensing Company, but the plaintiffs and those companies reached settlements in September.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.