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New Book Tells the Story of O’Bannon’s Fight Against the NCAA for Economic Justice

By Ken Reed

Former UCLA basketball All-American Ed O’Bannon had finally had enough when he saw his likeness being used in a video game. He knew others were making money off his likeness and he also knew he wasn’t getting a penny from the video game. A basic sense of unfairness drove him to file a lawsuit against the NCAA.

O’Bannon v. NCAA eventually became an antitrust class-action lawsuit against the NCAA on behalf of the NCAA’s Division I football and men’s basketball players.

On August 8, 2014, District Judge Claudia Wilken found for O’Bannon, et al, ruling that the NCAA’s rules and bylaws operate as an unreasonable restraint of trade, in violation of antitrust law. A year later, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, in part, and reversed, in part, Wilken’s ruling. O’Bannon’s lawyers appealed the case to the the Supreme Court of the United States, however the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Nevertheless, the fight for economic justice for college athletes continues.

O’Bannon has a new book out called Court Justice: The Inside Story of My Battle Against the NCAA. (http://amzn.to/2oJrLjo) It covers the process O’Bannon went through in his fight against college sports’ powerbrokers.

“Our intentions were, first and foremost, starting the conversation of players getting paid,” says O’Bannon.

“The amount of money that student-athletes are bringing into universities is staggering — it’s in the billions. So whether you’re UCLA, Ohio State, Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, or whether you’re a smaller school … everyone is getting paid. It’s the coaches, the athletic directors, the trainers, doctors — everyone on campus is getting paid off of that money that the athlete is bringing in. Except the athletes themselves.

“I think it’s really as cut and dry as this: If you help make the money, you should be able to share in the profit. That’s the American way.”

O’Bannon is happy that things are gradually changing for the better for college athletes. But he’s also frustrated with the slow pace of change.

“This book is more to educate, and to entertain,” says O’Bannon.

“I wanted it to be an easy read and I wanted the reader to get something out of it. I wanted the reader to understand where I’m coming from. Nothing more, nothing less. … I just want to get out there and talk about the system, where it is, give my opinions on where it should go, and that’s really it. Hopefully things will change. I know they are, in a molasses-like manner. I’m excited that they are changing.”

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans

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