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Assessing the impact of NCAA’s lawsuit defeat

Here is a look at the possible impact of the ruling Friday against the NCAA in the O’Bannon case.

Q: What does this ruling mean?

A: This antitrust suit by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon asked the U.S. District court in Oakland, Calif., to change the NCAA rules about an athlete’s ability to profit from the use of his name, likeness or images. The O’Bannon ruling means athletes will have the ability going forward to profit.

Q: Is this still as big of a deal as it was when O’Bannon filed the suit five years ago?

A: Yes and no.

The NCAA’s vote Thursday to grant autonomy to the ACC and the other “Power 5” conferences and the pending stipend proposal to address athletes’ “full cost of attendance,” was a step toward athletes being able to share in revenue.

This case gives athletes specific access to revenue but the main components of that money – the video game industry – no longer produces the games with college teams and the numbers assigned to individual players.

For example, O’Bannon’s lawsuit started when he noticed a supposedly generic “No. 31” (his number) with his likeness, the same height and left-handed shot, from UCLA’s 1995 national championship team in a video game.

On the other hand, the NCAA used to force athletes to sign a waiver that released the use of their likeness and image for perpetuity. That waiver – an athlete could not be eligible without signing it – is no longer part of the eligibility process. Without the O’Bannon suit, that practice would have likely continued.

Q: Is there a financial settlement as a result of the O’Bannon case?

A: No.

Q: So, going forward, someone like Jabari Parker, whose No. 1 jersey was sold by Nike and Duke, can get a cut of that money?

A: Yes, but not while the athletes are in school. The O’Bannon ruling allows for trust funds to be established for athletes to share in licensing revenue when their athletic eligibility expires or after their graduation.

Q: So what’s to stop an overzealous booster from buying Parker’s jersey in bulk and pumping up his cut of the money?

A: Under the ruling, the NCAA can cap the money in the fund but not at less than $5,000.

Q: This would be in addition to any stipends that are eventually approved as a result of Thursday’s autonomy vote and the “full cost of attendance?”

A: Yes.

Q: So when will this take effect?

A: The next football and Division I basketball recruiting cycle, or for any recruit who enrolls after July 1, 2016.

Q: What’s next?

A: The NCAA put out a statement Friday that it was still reviewing the decision.

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