Attorneys fighting for college-athletes’ rights say that bill proposed by Sen. Wicker to Sen. Cantwell has grave impacts
A law firm with a long track record of supporting and sustaining the rights of college-athletes says a recently proposed bill brought by Sen. Roger Wicker to Sen. Maria Cantwell has the potential to rob hundreds of thousands of college-athletes of their just rights to compensation for their name, image and likeness, according to Hagens Berman.
Hagens Berman has represented classes of college students before, achieving a $208 million settlement against the NCAA concerning antitrust-related student scholarship limits, a combined $60 million settlement against Electronic Arts and the NCAA regarding player likeness rights in video games, and an additional settlement valued at $75 million regarding concussions and safety protocols and a trial victory overturning NCAA rules limiting education based compensation. The firm’s sports litigation legal team also includes former NCAA athletes.
“The college sports industry has been immensely profitable for every party involved except the players themselves – the very ones who make the business of college sports possible and fill seats and build cult followings of fans,” said Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and attorney representing college-athletes against the NCAA. “At best, this bill is a misguided and over-restrictive measure to oversee an entire industry. At worst, it is designed to steamroll the rights of college-athletes to receiving even a portion of the multibillion-dollar deals based on their names, images and likenesses.”
Senators Selling Out Students
Attorneys say that the bill proposed by Sens. Wicker and Cantwell stands to totally wipe out legal efforts to protect college-athletes’ rights to their name, image and likeness – which have served as money-making potential for the NCAA, its members and conferences for decades.
“Cantwell and Wicker’s proposed bill would essentially give the NCAA a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Berman said. “It would continue allowing the NCAA to get away with having unlawfully prevented athletes from receiving compensation for the use of their name, image and likenesses.”
The issue is currently the subject of an antitrust class-action lawsuit alleging that the NCAA and other defendants violated federal antitrust laws in abiding by a particular subset of NCAA amateurism rules that prohibit college-athletes from receiving anything of value in exchange for the commercial use of their name and likeness.
Sedona Prince, who currently competes for the University of Oregon women’s basketball team said, “I just think it’s outrageous that the NCAA continues to treat us like children and take away our rights in the name of somehow ‘protecting us.’ College-athletes are adults, and we are more than capable of taking personal responsibility and making decisions for ourselves, but under this proposal we would continue to be unfairly restricted like no other student on campus is. It’s just really frustrating.”
Attorneys say college-athletes are long overdue for their fair share of the massively lucrative college sports industry.
More than 100 coaches at Division I schools earn over $1 million per year, with the top 25 football coaches earning an average of $5.2 million annually and the top 25 basketball coaches earning an average of $3.2 million annually. The median salary for an athletic director at a Division I institution is now over $500,000 a year, and college-athletes remain powerless to realize the commercial value of their own names and likenesses. In the 2017-18 academic year, sponsorship spending on college athletic departments, conferences, bowl games, and related properties totaled $1.24 billion. In 2015, USC’s athletics department’s social media activity was reportedly generating revenue for Fox Sports (the school’s rights holder) near the mid-six-figures amount annually, according to the lawsuit.
Hagens Berman has 10 offices worldwide. The firm’s tenacious drive for plaintiffs’ rights has earned it numerous national accolades, awards and titles of “Most Feared Plaintiff’s Firm,” MVPs and Trailblazers of class-action law. More about the law firm and its successes can be found at www.hbsslaw.com. Follow the firm for updates and news at @ClassActionLaw.