A ruling from a judge could make the NCAA on the hook for billions in payouts to college athletes who played before the NIL ban was lifted. Photo Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports Apr 8, 2019; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Virginia Cavaliers players celebrate with the trophy after defeating the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the championship game of the 2019 men’s Final Four at US Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Potentially huge news broke on Friday night and it could result in large sums of money being paid to former college athletes from the NCAA.

“Class-action status in the damages portion of an antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA was granted by a federal judge on Friday, a decision that could put the association on the hook for a potential multibillion dollar payout to former and current college athletes,” the Associated Press reported (per ESPN) on Friday night. “House vs. the NCAA is being heard in the Northern District of California by Judge Claudia Wilken, whose previous rulings in NCAA cases paved the way for college athletes to profit from their fame and for schools to direct more money into their hands.”

The lawsuit in question was filed by former Arizona State swimmer, Grant House, in 2020. Other plaintiffs in the case include Sedona Prince and Tymir Oliver, a TCU women’s basketball player and former Illinois football player, respectively.

The AP report detailed that should the NCAA lose the case, “Wilken’s latest ruling could make more than 14,000 current and former college athletes eligible to claim damages if the NCAA loses the case.”

While the NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) ban was lifted in 2021, this would open the door for anyone who played college sports before then to be eligible for a payout. Naturally, that would mean a lot of money for former college basketball and football athletes, whose names, images and likeness were used during massive revenue-generating events for the NCAA, such as March Madness and the College Football Playoff.

“Plaintiffs’ attorneys are also targeting the billions of dollars in media rights revenue for the football and basketball players whose sports drive the value of those deal for the NCAA and the five wealthiest college sports conferences,” the report said. “A loss for the NCAA could require professional-sports style revenue sharing of those multibillion-dollar television deals for big-time college football and March Madness basketball because they involve the use of players’ names, images and likenesses.”

[Associated Press (via ESPN)]

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