Ed O'Bannon, the former UCLA star now selling Camrys in the suburbs of Las Vegas, is the lead plaintiff in a long-awaited, much-welcomed class action suit that could sink a coup de grace through the NCAA's incoherent definition of amateurism.
Yahoo's Dan Wetzel has the news:
Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco, O'Bannon became the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit on behalf of all current and former Division I-A football and men's basketball athletes against the NCAA. He's represented by two of the nation's most high-powered law firms – including one that secured reparations for Holocaust survivors from Swiss banks.
The complaint, obtained by Yahoo! Sports, alleges that the NCAA "has illegally deprived former student-athletes" from "myriad revenue streams" including DVDs, video games, memorabilia, photographs, television rebroadcasts and use in advertising.
What's nominally at stake is control of the $4 billion market for collegiate licensed merchandise, but the lawsuit, orchestrated by crusading former sneaker impresario Sonny Vaccaro, is nothing short of an attack on the NCAA's antiquated and evermore untenable notion of amateurism, in which the NCAA profits wildly off the rampant commercialism it pretends to decry. You can read all about the implications here. It's a worthy fight, of which Ed O'Bannon, one of the more spectacular basketball flameouts in recent memory, is now the public face, a "sort of Curt Flood of college sports," in Wetzel's phrase. There's something sort of sweet about that. The guy couldn't crack the mid-'90s Nets lineups, and now he might very well wind up taking down the NCAA.
Making NCAA pay? [Yahoo]
Ed O'Bannon: Why I'm Fighting the NCAA [Lost Letterman]
NCAA faces unspecified damages, changes in latest anti-trust case [SI.com]