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NCAA Must Pay $46 Million in Class Action Antitrust Suit
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A federal judge has ordered that millions must be paid to compensate student athletes in a NCAA lawsuit.

Summary: A federal judge has ordered that millions must be paid to compensate student athletes in a NCAA lawsuit.

On Monday, a federal judge ordered the NCAA to pay close to $46 million in attorneys’ fees and costs to attorneys that represented student-athletes, including Ed O’Bannon, the former UCLA basketball star, in their class action antitrust suit against the sports organization.


Reuters reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins announced the decision late Monday night. Nearly a year had passed since U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that the NCAA violated antitrust law by preventing athletes from receiving revenue from the use of their names and images in video games and television broadcasts. According to Wikipedia, the NCAA argued that paying the athletes would violate their concept of amateurism in sports.

The NCAA was also involved in a suit against EA Sports.

The suit sought $50.9 million, and the award issued was 90 percent of that requested award. Cousins refused to honor the NCAA’s request that any court award remain at or below $9.1 million, as well as its plea to reduce the fee request by half.

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Cousins wrote, “This win against a behemoth of an institution like the NCAA could significantly change American college sports. Plaintiffs did not succeed on every claim. But the time spent on the unsuccessful claims contributed to the decisive success by laying the groundwork for the eventual trial victory.”

The decision is the most recent defeat for the NCAA in lawsuits over its refusal to pay the major players of college football and basketball teams.

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Critics have argued that the prohibition is unfair to athletes, and keeps them from taking paying jobs while they are in school. O’Bannon testified that he spent 40-45 hours each week practicing and playing basketball. O’Bannon won an NCAA scholarship in 1995. A legal team of 30 law firms represented his interests in the suit, according to Bloomberg.

Read about O’Bannon’s testimony here.

On March 17, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard the NCAA’s appeal of Wilken’s ruling, which argued that some athletes may deserve up to $5,000 per year in deferred payments. The outcome could affect the most recent decision.

In its request for reduced fees, the NCAA referenced Charles Dickens, calling the litigation “a tale of two lawsuits.” It argued that many of the original 2009 suits were unsuccessful, before the 2012 lawsuit prevailed.

In 2014, the athletes said they would not seek damages.

Cousins stated that a more appropriate allusion would be “Game of Thrones.” He wrote, “In Martin’s world, when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground. For plaintiffs, their trial victory in this adventurous, risky suit, while more than a mere game, is nothing less than a win.”

Michael Hausfeld, an attorney for the student athletes, said, “It’s a solid decision, and takes apart the NCAA’s attempted fabrications.”



Source: Reuters

Photo credit: Bloomberg, (Hausfeld)


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