In a case brought to trial against the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) by former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon, a federal judge has ruled that Division 1 football and basketball players, who were included in the lawsuit, own the rights to their names, images and likenesses.
Thus the NCAA and its constituent schools can no longer use their football and basketball players in promotions without paying them. U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken, however, ruled that the athletes could not receive payment while in school because that would “undermine the efforts of both the NCAA and its member schools to protect against the ‘commercial exploitation’ of student-athletes.” Payment will have to be withheld until they are no longer students, and students cannot pursue their own commercial endorsements while attending college.
In a 99-page ruling, Judge Wilken wrote:
After considering all of the testimony, documentary evidence, and arguments of counsel presented during and after trial, the court finds that the challenged NCAA rules unreasonably restrain trade in the market for certain educational and athletic opportunities offered by NCAA Division I schools.The procompetitive justifications that the NCAA offers do not justify this restraint and could be achieved through less-restrictive means. The court … will enter as a remedy a permanent injunction prohibiting certain overly restrictive restraints.
In a nod to the NCAA and its schools, the judge also ruled that they could cap yearly payments at $5,000 per athlete.