Judge clears the way for lawsuit against NCAA

Judge clears the way for lawsuit against NCAA

Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Judge clears the way for lawsuit against NCAA

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by Steve Berkowitz, USA TODAY Sports

KING5.com

Posted on April 11, 2014 at 4:15 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 11 at 4:50 PM

A federal judge on Friday cleared the way for a trial in a lawsuit against the NCAA pertaining to the use of college athletes' names and likenesses.

The case could result in a ruling that ends the NCAA's current limits on what college athletes can receive as compensation in exchange for playing sports.

The lead plaintiff in the case is former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon.

In a 48-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken denied both the plaintiffs' and the NCAA's requests for full rulings in their favor without trial.

The ruling said a jury trial will begin on June 9.

While setting the stage for the trial, Wilken denied a request from the plaintiffs that she reconsider her decision not to grant class-action certification to a broad range of current and former athletes seeking monetary damages from past live television broadcasts of games. That will prevent the plaintiffs from seeking an award that could have been in the billions of dollars.

However, absent a settlement, the trial will include efforts by at least some of the roughly 20 named plaintiffs to obtain individual monetary damages awards. If successful, that could open the door to lawsuits from other individual current and former athletes.

Wilken's ruling handed another small victory to the plaintiffs. She ruled that at the trial, the NCAA cannot use one of the five justifications it had been hoping to offer as a reason for its limits on what athletes can receive for playing college sports. She said that the NCAA cannot say that the limits enable increased support for women's sports and less prominent men's sports.

Wilken also handed the NCAA two requirements if wants to use another of the five justifications it has offered for the its limit on athlete compensation: that the limit promotes the integration of education and athletics because it keeps athletes from being treated markedly differently from other students for their participation in an extra-curricular activity. The NCAA had presented a set of statements from several university officials to that effect, but Wilken rejected those, saying that that if the NCAA wants to make this argument at trial "it must present evidence to show that (the limit) actually contributes to the integration of education and athletics" and it must show this integration enhances competition among the schools.

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