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Basketball Champion William Russell Commences New Efforts Against NCAA Antitrust Violations
William F. Russell, superstar National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), National Basketball Association, and Olympic basketball player, filed a class action complaint against the NCAA for antitrust damages and injunctive relief.
Russell’s basketball career led him from two NCAA Championships while playing for the University of San Francisco to an Olympic Gold Medal win. He also played for the Celtics where his shot blocking and man-to-man defense compelled some to call him one of the greatest NBA players of all time.
Russell claims that the NCAA requires student athletes to sign a release for the commercial use of their image in perpetuity. Russell alleges that the NCAA treats this release, which is ambiguous and uninformed, as a “perpetual license” and therefore the NCAA uses the players’ images even after they have left the league.
For example, the NCAA continues to exploit the players’ images in products like DVDs of NCAA games. The 1955 NCAA national semi-final game between Colorado and University of San Francisco retails for $150 per DVD. Additionally, defendant Electronic Arts, a video game developer, publisher, and distributor uses Russell’s name and image in connection with NCAA licensed videogames. Yet, the NCAA’s Constitution requires that “student athletes be protected from exploitation by professional and commercial enterprises” and prohibits a payday to students and former students.
This case joins the efforts of Ed O’Bannon and Oscar Robertson, whose pending antitrust class action against the NCAA is captioned In re NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Licensing Litigation. Both suits were filed in the Northern District of California.
Basketball Champion William Russell Commences New Efforts Against NCAA Antitrust Violations,