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NCAA again tries to opt out of federal antitrust lawsuit

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

The NCAA wants out of its federal lawsuit, and on Tuesday asked a judge if that would be possible, according to a report late Tuesday night by USA Today.

Both the NCAA and EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing Co. are being sued by many former college players who claim the two entities made millions of dollars off their likenessess in myriad ways. Former UCLA star Ed O'Bannon is the face of the former and current collegiate athletes embroiled in the legal conflict.

The move/request by the NCAA on Tuesday was no surprise, considering EA Sports did the same last week. It also was the latest stall tactic employed by the NCAA in a case that's still not close to trial, yet has been going on for more than four years. From USA Today:

The requests had been expected in the wake of U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken's ruling last week that the NCAA and its co-defendants in the case ... could file dismissal motions. ... Because Wilken had instructed the NCAA not repeat arguments it has made in other filings, its filing Tuesday was little more than a brief re-statement of the allegations against the NCAA and a lengthy table summarizing its past responses.

...

The NCAA maintains it does not restrict college athletes from licensing their names and likenesses after they have left school, and that it never allowed EA to use athletes' names and likenesses in video games. It also contends that the law does not grant name-and-likeness rights to participants in broadcasts of sporting events and that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the NCAA's rules preventing athletes from being paid for playing college sports.

We don't yet know what the federal judge will do. Tuesday was merely a formality, and in the near-future we should know more.

On the opposite end of the case, the lawyers representing O'Bannon are urging the federal judge to deem this case a class-action suit, and if that becomes the case, it would allow thousands of former college athletes to join as plaintiffs, essentially threatening the very nature of the NCAA's revenue stream over the past two decades. The NFL faced a similar legal situation recently, when it was involved in a concussion lawsuit that it ultimately settled for $765 million.

Less than a month ago the NCAA asked for a 15-month delay in the case. As of now, the case, which has gone through many stagnations already after formally being brought in 2009, has a trial date set for June of 2014.

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