NCAA Can’t Nix Athletes’ Bid to Sue as a Class

     OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – College athletes can fight to certify a class allegedly shut out of revenue from live television game broadcasts.
     The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), Electronic Arts Inc. and Collegiate Licensing Company had to strike the motion for class certification in the antitrust action led by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon.
     O’Bannon’s 2009 complaint claimed that the NCAA forces athletes to sign away the rights to their own images, cheating them out of a share in the profits from DVD and video game sales.
     In late 2012, the athletes sought to amend their class certification terms. The newly defined class seeks to cover both former and current NCAA athletes, and to award football and men’s basketball players 50 percent of all revenues earned by the NCAA or its member schools for live broadcasts of games.
     In an ensuing objection, the NCAA said that the class certification motion “profoundly changes every significant aspect of the antitrust claims” originally brought by the athletes.
     The certification motion “introduces a new, much broader class definition, new allegations of illegal conduct, new products supposedly affected by that illegal conduct, and new relevant markets,” the NCAA claimed.
     U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken refused to strike the certification motion Tuesday but said the defendants can file an additional opposition brief.
     “Defendants argue that the motion for class certification should be stricken because antitrust plaintiffs are precluded from prosecuting the claims for which they seek certification,” she wrote. “However, this is not reason to preclude antitrust plaintiffs from moving for class certification; instead, these contentions are more properly considered as arguments supporting denial of the motion for class certification on its merits. Accordingly, the court denies defendants’ motion to strike and construes their brief as opposition to antitrust plaintiffs’ motion for class certification.”
     A hearing on the class certification motion is scheduled for June 20.

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