Ex-NCAA Players’ Antitrust, Publicity Suits Severed

The National Collegiate Athletic Association will face trial in June over antitrust claims by athletes while contentions the group used players’ images without their permission will be tried next year, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California, rejected the association’s bid to put off an antitrust trial or carve out claims dealing with the use of athletes’ images in video games.

She also refused to let the NCAA and broadcasters ask a federal appeals court to overturn her ruling that the First Amendment doesn’t bar student-athletes from selling group licenses to use their names, images, and likenesses in live or recorded broadcasts.

Barring a last-minute settlement, her decision means that the NCAA’s practice of providing only scholarships for athletes who generate billions of dollars in TV revenues will be put on trial June 9. The case is part of a movement by current and former college athletes to secure compensation, better medical benefits, control over their images and labor protections in a system that considers them amateurs. The publicity rights case will be tried in March, Wilken said.

The case is In Re NCAA Student-Athlete Name and Likeness Licensing Litigation, 09-01967, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

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