Basketball on the HardwoodFormer College Basketball Star Sues the NCAA

Ed O’Bannon, former UCLA basketball star, led his team to the 1995 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championship, surely making his team a great deal of money.  Now, O’Bannon is the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit against the NCAA; the video game company EA Sports; and the Collegiate Licensing Co., the Atlanta trademark licensing company, claiming the following:

  • Antitrust violations
  • Illegal denial of compensation for the use of college basketball and football players’ “names, images and likenesses in video games, DVDs, reruns of games and other promotional materials.”

According to ABA Journal, O’Bannon first learned that his likeness was used in a video game when “he was at a friend’s house and saw his friend’s son playing NCAA March Madness with an avatar that looked a lot like him.”

Waiver Form 08-3a = Right to Use Name and Pictures?

Student athletes apparently have to sign a waiver form (Form 08-3a) when they first start their college careers that allows the NCAA, or a third party representing the association, the right to use their names and pictures for promotions.  Moreover, “NCAA imposes the requirement that student athletes forgo the right to make a profit from licensing the use of their name, image or likeness.”  The apparent reason for this requirement is “to preserve the amateurism of college sports.”

In the lawsuit, plaintiffs argue that these requirements should no longer be enforced once their college careers have come to an end, and “the spirit of amateurism is no longer at risk.”

What are your thoughts?  Should O’Bannon be compensated for the use of his name, image and likeness in NCAA March Madness?