The opening witness on Monday in the class-action antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA was Ed O’Bannon, who is the focus of the lawsuit, according to USA Today.
Not long after U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken entered the courtroom, the lawyers for the NCAA and for former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller, announced that the two parties settled a case involving the use of the names and likenesses of college athletes in video games. This case is completely unrelated to the O’Bannon case.
The proposed deal was for $20 million, which comes on top of the $40 million proposed settlement involving Electronic Arts and Collegiate Licensing Co. The claims came from four lawsuits, one of which was part of the O’Bannon case.
“This is the start of a lot of things to come against entities who are misappropriating the property rights of student-athletes, including (athletes) who stopped playing years ago,” said Robert Carey, an attorney for Keller, in an interview with USA Today Sports. “It’s a neat feeling. It’s a sense of accomplishment, this becoming the first time the NCAA is paying out for a product on the field. This is going to be the first of many dominoes to fall. It’s an exciting time. The whole goal in (these lawsuits) is to change the landscape — to do what’s fair and right. And I wish (the O’Bannon plaintiffs) the best of luck.”
Aside from O’Bannon, Stanford professor Roger Noll also took the stand. Noll was testifying as the plaintiffs’ main economics expert in the case. Noll will resume his testimony on Tuesday. O’Bannon finished his testimony and his cross-examination on Monday. Noll will also be cross-examined on Tuesday. He will be followed by another plaintiff, former Alabama football player Tyrone Prothro. On Wednesday, plaintiff Chase Garnham, from Vanderbilt football, will be called to the stand.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs are asking for an injunction that would prohibit the NCAA from limiting what Division I men’s basketball players and Bowl Subdivision football players can receive for playing their respective sports.
O’Bannon, who played basketball for UCLA in the 1990s, told the court that he would spend 40 to 45 hours per week on basketball and 10-12 hours on academics. He said he attended UCLA for communications, but majored in history because an adviser moved him in that direction due to conflicts with basketball scheduling.
“I was an athlete masquerading as a student,” O’Bannon said. “… I was there strictly to play basketball.”
O’Bannon said during testimony he feels college athletes should be paid. He also said Little League baseball players should be paid if their games generate revenue. Little League regional championships and the Little League World Series are all televised, which means they generate revenue.
“I think one thing that you got to understand (is) you evolve. Your mind evolves and your case evolves and people evolve, and, you know, what I said three years ago — my thoughts have evolved. Simple as that,” O’Bannon told USA Today Sports.
Donald Remy, the chief legal officer for the NCAA, said, it’s “for the judge to determine the credibility of his comments.”