Federal judge dismisses lawsuit alleging that athletes’ images were improperly used by networks

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Of the lawsuits regarding the use of the names, images and likenesses of student-athletes by the NCAA and its members, one focused on the question of whether or not participants should be compensated for playing in televised games. If upheld the suit, which was filed in Nashville last fall and included multiple plaintiffs, could have led to television partners and the conferences they do business with having to compensate those athletes for playing said games.

However on Thursday U.S. District Judge Kevin H. Sharp dismissed the case, stating that the plaintiffs did not do enough to show that they should be compensated for playing in nationally televised games. Among the plaintiffs in the case were former Vanderbilt football players Javon Marshall, Eric Samuels and Steven Clarke, and former football and basketball players from other Division I schools as well.

The ruling is a win for the networks and conferences in a battle over the billions of dollars earned in college sports. It opposes a judge’s ruling in a similar California case and ensures publicity law — and payments — for college players will be tested in multiple appeals courts.

Sharp dismissed the plaintiffs’ arguments that were based in publicity law, trademark statute and antitrust law, throwing out claims that television networks, NCAA conferences and their licensees were conspiring to exploit rules forbidding student-athletes from making money.

Eight conferences, including the SEC, were named as defendants in the suit as well television networks ESPN, FOX, ABC, NBC and CBS. The question now is whether or not this ruling will impact other ongoing lawsuits, most notably the Ed O’Bannon suit.

As a result of that case many schools and conferences have begun allocating money to meet the full cost of attendance for their scholarship athletes, with extra funds being made available as soon as this fall. Had the case regarding television money been successful for the plaintiffs, that would have been another issue for the NCAA and its membership to deal with.