On Friday, the latest ruling in former UCLA star Ed O’Bannon’s case against the NCAA came down from United States District Judge Claudia Wilken.
And depending on how you spin the ruling, it can be considered a win for both sides.
Wilken has certified the lawsuit as a class-action, but with one, significant catch: she certified the class solely for injunctive relief. Work your way through the legalese, and the nitty gritty is that current Division I basketball players and FBS football players can continue to challenge the NCAA on the restrictions that amateurism places on their earning potential, but that former players will not be able to pursue damages.
Wilken said the plaintiffs had not identified a legitmate method to calculate damages to former players.
That left O’Bannon and about 20 current or former athletes, many of whom [Sonny] Vaccaro helped to join the case, without what they desired in the first place: compensation for their likenesses and images after their playing career ended. If their case makes history, they are unlikely to profit from it.
O’Bannon and Vaccaro still could end up changing the fundamentals of college athletics, which is what they set out to do in the first place.
But without having to pay out damages to former athletes, the NCAA likely won’t be settling this case and will see the potential costs of losing limited.