Former Bruin O'Bannon sues NCAA

Updated: July 22, 2009, 10:58 AM ET
Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO -- A former UCLA basketball player is suing the NCAA over its use of former student athletes' images in DVDs, video games, photographs, apparel and other material.

In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, Ed O'Bannon says the NCAA illegally has athletes sign away their rights to the commercial use of their images and does not share any of the proceeds from their use with former athletes.

"While the NCAA, its member conferences and schools, and its for-profit business partners reap millions of dollars from revenue streams ..., former student athletes whose likenesses are utilized to generate those profit centers receive no compensation whatsoever," the suit claims.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and calls on the NCAA to pay the former athletes what it has allegedly made from the use of their images. That amount has yet to be determined, said Megan Jones, a partner with the law firm of Hausfeld LLP, which is representing O'Bannon.

It also seeks an injunction on behalf of current student athletes barring the NCAA from licensing the rights to their images.

"There has been an awakening in the former student athletes," Jones said. "They are seeing their images and likenesses in more places now than ever before."

Bob Williams, a spokesman for the NCAA, declined to comment on the suit, saying the NCAA had yet to review it.

"However, the NCAA categorically denies any infringement on former or current student athlete likeness rights," he said.

The lawsuit, which also names the NCAA's licensing representative, the Collegiate Licensing Company, seeks class action status on behalf of former NCAA Division I basketball and football players.

O'Bannon won the national championship with UCLA in 1995 and was named the tournament's most outstanding player. He went on to a short-lived career in the NBA.

A message left for a Collegiate Licensing Company spokeswoman late Tuesday was not immediately returned.

The filing of the lawsuit was first reported by Yahoo! Sports.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press