Judge denies NCAA motion in O'Bannon lawsuit

May 12, 2014

The judge in former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon's antitrust lawsuit on Monday denied a motion filed by the NCAA as part of a bid to delay the scheduled start of the trial next month in federal court.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled against the NCAA in a motion that questioned her earlier decision on what the NCAA can use as a defense in a case that has the potential to drastically alter the way college sports are regulated.

The ruling involved one of the four motions the NCAA has filed in an effort to delay the trial over compensation for athletes for playing major sports that generate billions of dollars in revenue for the NCAA and its member schools. The other motions are still pending before Wilken's court in Oakland, California.

O'Bannon and a group of other former athletes claim in their suit that the NCAA is violating antitrust laws by limiting what athletes can receive for playing major college football and basketball while at the same time selling television rights to the games and likenesses of athletes to video game manufacturers.

The trial is scheduled to begin June 9.

In her latest ruling, Wilken denied the NCAA's motion to reconsider an earlier decision that said the organization cannot use as a defense its contention that not paying players is permissible because schools use money generated by the major sports to pay for other sports and women's sports.

Wilken said in her ruling that the NCAA does not currently have a rule forcing schools to pay for lesser sports with revenue from its basketball tournament and that the organization did not show it had other less restrictive options for funding those sports.

The lead attorney for O'Bannon earlier called the flurry of filings late last month by the NCAA a desperate attempt to derail a lawsuit filed in 2009 over whether athletes have the rights to market themselves and their own images instead of the NCAA.