(New throughout, adds details from ruling, background about
By Dan Levine
SAN FRANCISCO, April 11 U.S. college athletes
will get a chance to prove in court that sports team members
should be paid, after a federal judge on Friday rejected the
National College Athletic Association's attempt to head off a
trial in the widely watched case.
U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California,
denied a request the NCAA made last year to decide the case in
its favor before trial. The NCAA argued that the current system
is justified because amateur status makes college athletics more
popular and furthers competition.
More than 20 current and former athletes sued, saying that
players should share in the profits of college athletics, a
highly lucrative business in which universities reap billions of
dollars from men's football and basketball. The athletes say
they should be compensated for the money they help earn from
sources such as video game licensing and television revenue.
A representative for the NCAA could not immediately be
reached for comment on the ruling. Trial is currently scheduled
to begin in June.
The players allege that the NCAA violated federal antitrust
law by conspiring with videogame maker Electronic Arts Inc
and the NCAA's licensing arm to restrain competition in
the market for the commercial use of the players' names, images,
The athletes also had originally sued EA, which settled.
Fox Broadcasting Co, a unit of News Corp, filed
court papers supporting the NCAA's request to head off the
In an order on Friday, Wilken cited evidence from the
athletes that the NCAA has changed its definition of amateurism
several times without hurting consumer demand for its product.
Thus the NCAA must prove the case at trial, she wrote.
The case in U.S. District Court, Northern District of
California is In Re NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness
Licensing Litigation, 09-1967.
(Reporting by Dan Levine; Editing by David Gregorio)