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Court asks O'Bannon's lawyers to add current players to lawsuit

By Tom Fornelli | Staff Writer

U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken informed Ed O'Bannon and his lawyers at a hearing in Oakland, Calif., on Thursday that if they wish to include current players in their class-action suit against the NCAA's ban on compensating student athletes, they'll need to add a current player to the lawsuit.

Some had expected Wilken to issue a ruling as to whether the lawsuit could move forward as a class-action suit. Instead, with the suggestion that the case add a current player, it could still be months before Wilken rules on the case's merit.

Michael Hausfield, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said they will file a new lawsuit using current players but that they'll look to keep those players anonymous because they are "afraid of retaliation."

The NCAA maintains the lawsuit should not be a class-action lawsuit because the claims of thousands of college athletes are different and should not be treated the same.

Though a decision now appears to be a long way off, if Judge Wilken were to rule against the certification of the class-action lawsuit, it would be a victory for the NCAA. While O'Bannon (a UCLA basketball player during the 1990s) and other plaintiffs could still file a lawsuit against the NCAA, they could only do so for themselves, not all college athletes.

Should Judge Wilken certify O'Bannon's lawsuit, the case would move forward with thousands of current and former athletes suing the NCAA and seeking damages. Odds are that if this were to be the case, the NCAA would look to settle out of court.

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