NCAA Expert Protest Fizzles

It didn’t take long for Chief Judge Claudia Wilken to nix the NCAA’s request to exclude two expert opinion reports in the long-running battle over use of former players’ names and images without compensation.

Wilken issued an order Wednesday denying the NCAA’s request to exclude two experts, but she did give the college athletics body more time to question the experts prior to a class certification hearing in June.  Joining in the NCAA request was its licensing arm, Collegiate Licensing Co., and video game-maker Electronic Arts, which makes the popular Madden Football video game series.

Former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon and other players filed claims against the NCAA that it engaged in antitrust violations by marketing the images and names of players long after they leave college, but without compensation.

The lawsuit seeks damages from the NCAA and video game-maker Electronic Arts.

Wilken gave the NCAA until May 24 to depose all four experts used by the players, (two were already known and questioned by the NCAA, two are new), and she allowed a delay in current briefing deadlines from May 9 to May 30, eliminating the potential to delay the June 20 hearing on class certification in the case.

Joining O’Bannon in the lawsuit were Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson.  The hearing in June before U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken was to determine whether the former players’ claims should be joined in a single class action lawsuit applying to all affected former players.

The players contend they were required to sign away the rights to their images and names in perpetuity in order to play college sports.

The NCAA then used those rights to negotiate lucrative TV contracts, rebroadcast rights for games and the sale of clothing and games linked to particular players.

Case: O’Bannon v. NCAA, No. C09-1967CW