INDIANAPOLIS — A day after six current college football players joined a closely watched antitrust case against the NCAA, attorneys on both sides swapped fresh jabs Friday.
Current and former athletes believe they are owed billions, saying the NCAA allowed their likenesses to be used in video games without compensation. NCAA chief legal counsel Donald Remy made it clear Friday that the organization has no intention of changing the amateurism policy that has been a bedrock principle since the NCAA was founded more than a century ago.
“College sports today are valued by the student-athletes who compete and all of us who support them,” he said. “However, the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the likeness case now want to make this about professionalizing a few current student-athletes to the detriment of all others. Their scheme to pay a small number of student-athletes threatens college sports as we know it.
“In particular, we would lose the very real opportunity for at least 96 percent of NCAA male and female student-athletes who do not compete in Division I men’s basketball or FBS football to play a sport and get an education, as they do today.”
Former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon is the lead plaintiff among 16 former college athletes in the lawsuit. Basketball Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson previously joined the lawsuit that also named video game maker EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Co. A federal judge is considering a request to grant class-action status to the lawsuit, which would open it to potentially thousands of current and former athletes and possibly expose the NCAA to millions in damages.
On Wednesday, the NCAA issued a statement saying it would no longer allow EA Sports to use its name or logo on video games. The NCAA had been being paid $545,000 annually by EA Sports.
A day later, six current players — Vanderbilt linebacker Chase Garnham; Clemson cornerback Darius Robinson; linebacker Jake Fischer and kicker Jake Smith from Arizona; and tight end Moses Alipate and wide receiver Victor Keise of Minnesota — were added to the list of plaintiffs.
O’Bannon’s side insists the flurry of movement this week indicates the NCAA is worried.
“It’s apparent to us that the NCAA’s decision to end its long and hugely profitable relationship with EA is tied directly to the pressure our litigation is bringing the bear,” said Steve Berman, lead counsel for the plaintiffs and managing partner at Hagens Berman.
QB NAMED TO WALTER CAMP LIST: ULM’s Kolton Browning is one of 50 players on the watch list for the Walter Camp Award, given annually to college football’s Player of the Year.
Browning, named the Sun Belt preseason Offensive Player of the Year earlier this week, threw for 3,049 yards and 29 touchdowns as a junior last season. Last year’s winner was Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.
Florida International coach Ron Turner apologized for the conduct of players who used a public outdoor shower after a beach workout Friday and disrobed in public. The incident took place on Crandon Park Beach in Key Biscayne, Fla., about 20 miles east of FIU’s main campus. Miami-Dade police said they were called to investigate reports that a group of players were unclothed in view of other beachgoers. No charges were filed, and police said none are expected. ... The Outback Bowl extended its contract with the Big Ten by six years through the 2019 season.
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