Former linebacker Chris Spielman suing Ohio State over player likeness usage
Spielman is suing his alma mater for its use of the likenesses of former athletes
Here's a sentence I never expected to type, and one you probably never thought you'd read, but former Ohio State linebacker Chris Spielman has filed a lawsuit against Ohio State.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Spielman's lawsuit is over a marketing program that has been using the images of Ohio State athletes without their permission, and without paying them for it. He's filing the lawsuit on behalf of himself as well as current and former Ohio State players.
The lawsuit names Ohio State and talent management giant IMG as defendants and names Honda and Nike as co-conspirators. Nike is targeted for its "Legends of the Scarlet and Gray" vintage jersey licensing program and other apparel contracts with Ohio State.
The lawsuit accuses the university and the companies of "unjust and monopolistic behaviors" and asks for compensation above $75,000, as is typical in such complaints, while noting Ohio State makes millions in revenue from merchandising programs involving ex-athletes.
"Former OSU student-athletes do not share in these revenues even though they have never given informed consent to the widespread and continued commercial exploitation of their images," the lawsuit said.
Some of the former Ohio State athletes Spielman is suing on behalf of are two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, Jim Stillwagon (an offensive lineman on the 1968 national championship team) and Mike Doss (a safety on the 2002 title team). Those three, and others, appear on 64 banners hanging at Ohio Stadium, and they're all sponsored by Honda.
"We immensely value our relationships with all of our former student athletes," said Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith in a statement. "Ohio State is aware of the lawsuit that Chris Spielman has filed, and we are in the process of reviewing it."
Spielman says that any money made from the lawsuit will be donated to the school's athletic department.
"My concern is about the exploitation of all former players across this nation who do not have the platform to stand up for themselves while universities and corporations benefit financially by selling their name and likenesses without their individual consent," Spielman said.
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