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US judge OKs suit vs NCAA

Updated: 2013-11-11 08:11
By Reuters in San Francisco ( China Daily)

A lawsuit brought by college athletes seeking television and videogame revenue can move forward, a US judge has ruled, in a case that seeks to reshape traditional notions of sports amateurism in the United States.

In a decision on Friday, US District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California, ruled that a group of players could sue the National Collegiate Athletic Association as a class action, in an effort to change rules that bar athletes from earning money on their images. However, she ruled athletes could not seek money damages for financial losses they suffered in the past.

The lawsuit takes on the highly-lucrative business of college athletics, where universities reap billions of dollars from men's American football and basketball, but players are not allowed to profit.

Filed in 2009, the case seeks to create a new system where broadcasting and videogame revenue would go into a fund. Players would not get a cut of it while they were actively playing, but they would get money after they were no longer NCAA-eligible, said Sathya Gosselin, an attorney for the athletes.

"The NCAA has long decried this litigation as threatening college sports as we know it, when in fact the relief sought here is narrow," Gosselin said.

NCAA chief legal officer Don Remy said the NCAA was pleased Wilken removed damages from the case.

"We have long maintained that the plaintiffs in this matter are wrong on the facts and wrong on the law," Remy said in an e-mail. "This ruling is one step closer to validating that position."

More than 20 current and former athletes sued the NCAA, alleging that it violated federal antitrust law by conspiring with videogame maker Electronic Arts Inc and the NCAA's licensing arm to restrain competition in the market for the commercial use of the players' names, images and likenesses.

The athletes also had originally sued EA, which recently settled.

The NCAA had argued the lawsuit should not be certified as a class action because some stars would earn much more than other athletes, thus setting up a conflict of interest.

(China Daily 11/11/2013 page23)

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