It’s one thing to have a federal lawsuit by former so-called student athletes against the NCAA. It’s quite another to have current players suing the premier college sports regulator. And it is even more cataclysmic if the case is certified as a class action allowing innumerable student athletes to share the consequences. That is the revolution that some have advocated for decades. Yet an unceremonious court ruling days ago lighting a match to this war has been little more than a back page blurb or a verbal footnote in talk radio and sportscasts.
The discreet little ruling last week was from federal judge Claudia Wilken in a case where the lead plaintiff is former UCLA star basketball player Ed O’Bannon. He and several other former players claim the NCAA has been fixing the price of an athlete’s image and likeness in a way that virtually eliminates a player from sharing in the value they created. The suit alleges the NCAA colludes with its member schools, TV networks and videogame manufacturers in violation of anticompetitive provisions of federal antitrust law. The claimed relief includes a share of the billions in revenue generated from the current system.\