4/1/2013: From Sports Illustrated:
The case, filed by former UCLA basketball star O’Bannon in 2009 and eventually expanded to include high-profile co-plaintiffs like Oscar Robertson and Bill Russell, initially focused solely on the use of former athletes’ likeness in products such as EA Sports’ NCAA video games, for which the individuals are not compensated. (EA Sports is a co-defendant.) However, in a motion for class certification filed last August, the plaintiffs contended that both current and former athletes should be included in the case and argued they are entitled to 50 percent of revenue generated by NCAA and conference television contracts. In other words, it has become a pay-for-play case.
… “This is the most threatening lawsuit the NCAA has ever faced,” said SI.com legal expert Michael McCann, a University of New Hampshire sports law professor. “If O’Bannon prevails, it would radically change the economics of college sports. More specifically, it would, like Pat Haden said, require schools to operate a sports program with substantially less money.”
Despite the potentially seismic implications, most college athletic officials have publicly downplayed the possibility of an unfavorable outcome to this point. The NCAA, as would be expected of a defendant in a lawsuit, has maintained confidence it will ultimately prevail. “This case has always been wrong — wrong on the facts and wrong on the law,” NCAA executive vice president and chief legal officer Donald Remy said in a statement last month. “We look forward to its eventual resolution in the courts.” And for the most part, that mindset has trickled down to college administrators.