NCAA Antitrust Trial Begins June 9

The mega-antitrust trial pitting former college athletes against the National Collegiate Athletic Association will go ahead as planned June 9.

The NCAA failed to convince U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken to delay the legal fight, now in its fifth year, including a trip to the appeals court.

The first of two consolidated lawsuits to be tried will be an antitrust suit by former Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller.  He accused the NCAA of conspiring with Electronic Arts to restrain competition in the market for “college education” as part of the competition to recruit student athletes and the “group licensing market,” in which broadcasters and game makers compete for the rights to use star players’ names and team identities.

The trial will not be a jury trial, but a bench trial before Wilken.

The second lawsuit by former UCLA star basketball player Ed O’Bannon accused the NCAA, the Collegiate Licensing Co. and the EA gaming company of using the athletes’ names and images in video games and other commercial areas without compensation.

His right-of-publicity claims will be tried March 2015, Wilken said Friday.

Both Keller and O’Bannon, and several other named athletes, settled with EA in September, leaving the NCAA the center of the trial starting in June.

The NCAA argued that it had to wait to try the antitrust issues until after the right-of-publicity claims were decided because the Constitution required damage claims to be resolved prior to claims for injunctive relief.

Wilken said no.  “Even if antitrust plaintiffs’ claims and right-of-publicity plaintiffs’ claims did require the adjudication of some common issues, the Seventh Amendment would not require that they be tried together,” she wrote.

Case:  Keller v. NCAA, No. C09-1967CW

And, O’Bannon v. NCAA, No. C09-3329CW



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