INDIANAPOLIS — One day after six current college football players joined a closely watched antitrust case against the NCAA, attorneys on both sides swapped fresh jabs Friday.
Current and former athletes believe they are owed billions of dollars, saying the NCAA allowed their likenesses to be used in video games without compensation. NCAA chief legal counsel Donald Remy made it clear Friday that the governing body has no intention of changing the amateurism policy that has been a bedrock principle since the NCAA was founded more than a century ago.
“College sports today are valued by the student-athletes who compete and all of us who support them,” he said. “However, the plaintiffs’ lawyers in the likeness case now want to make this about professionalizing a few current student-athletes to the detriment of all others. Their scheme to pay a small number of student-athletes threatens college sports as we know it.
“In particular, we would lose the very real opportunity for at least 96 percent of NCAA male and female student-athletes who do not compete in Division I men’s basketball or FBS football to play a sport and get an education, as they do today.”
Former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon is the lead plaintiff among 16 former college athletes in the lawsuit. Basketball Hall of Famers Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson previously joined the lawsuit that also named video-game maker EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Co. A federal judge is considering a request to grant class-action status to the lawsuit, which would open it to potentially thousands of current and former athletes and possibly expose the NCAA to millions in damages.
Besides voluminous court filings, there have been plenty of twists.
On Wednesday, the NCAA issued a statement saying it would no longer allow EA Sports to use its name or logo on video games. The NCAA had been being paid $545,000 annually by EA Sports.