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.

NCAA, D-II Slippery Rock sued over death of Jack Hill, Jr.

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The family of a Division II basketball player that died after an intense practice due to complications from sickle cell trait have sued Slippery Rock (PA) University and the NCAA.

The parents of Jack Hill Jr., Jack Sr. and Cheryl, said that their son wasn’t screened for sickle cell trait and that school officials didn’t do enough to save their son’s life. Screening for sickle cell wasn’t required for Division I athletes until 2010 or for Division II athletes until 2012.

Hill died exactly two years ago Tuesday, on September 10th, 2011.

“The tragedy of the preventable death of a promising young man is that knowing that sickle cell trait was the leading cause of student athlete deaths, the NCAA began mandating testing for SCT at Division I schools in 2010, but the mandate didn’t take effect at Division II schools like Slippery Rock until August 2012 — a year after Jack’s death, and a direct contributor to it,” said Tom Kline, the parents’ attorney who announced the lawsuit Monday.

Sickle cell trait is not a disease state and it does not affect the normal life expectancy of someone with the SCT, but it is dangerous for athletes. When a person with SCT exerts themselves too much physically, their red blood cells can sickle, or form c-shapes. Those sickles can result in blockages being in veins and capillaries, which can have serious, sometimes deadly, repercussions if the logjams stop the blood from flowing.

Athletes with SCT can be just as successful as athletes without SCT. Last summer, I wrote a story on Billy Garrett, who is currently a freshman at DePaul, and how he battles SCT. Proper hydration is a key, as is the moderation and mitigation of their physical exertion. Athletes with SCT should get more time to finish a timed two-mile run, or more time in between suicides at the end of practices.

Hill, according to the lawsuit, died during a “nighttime ‘insanity practice’ [held] as punishment for the entire team,” according to the AP.

TCU pays Big East $5 million to settle conference realignment lawsuit

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TCU’s time in the Big East ended before it ever began, but that didn’t save the Texas school from a $5 million lawsuit from the conference, alleging it owed money for pulling out of a commitment and leaving to join the Big 12.

That lawsuit was dropped Wednesday, as TCU agreed to pay the $5 million balance and legally free itself from obligations to the Big East.

Bloomberg was the first to report the news, and it was later confirmed by the Associated Press.

”TCU has fully discharged its obligations to the Big East and the lawsuit is amicably settled without admission of liability of any party,” the conference said a statement to the AP.

TCU never competed as a member of the Big East, having agreed to become a member in November 2010, but accepting an invitation to the Big 12 in October, thus leaving the Big East behind.

The Big East took care of its legal paperwork Wednesday, also settling with Pittsburgh to allow the Panthers to leave for the ACC in July 2013 in exchange for $7.5 million.

TCU basketball welcomes new head coach Trent Johnson in 2012-13, looking to improve on an 18-15 finish last season, which included 7-7  in the Mountain West.

The Horned Frogs’ top two leading scorers, Hank Thorns and J.R. Cadot, have both graduated, leaving TCU with a scoring hole to fill. Three players will join the team from the high school Class of 2012: Clyde Smith, Aaron Durley, and Charles Hill.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Laurie Fine to sue ESPN, accuses network of libel


Laurie Fine, the wife of former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine, will sue ESPN for libel in response to the network’s reporting of her involvement in the alleged incidents that led to child molestation accusations being levied against her husband, the Post-Standard is reporting.

In a 44-page document provided to the Post-Standard, the lawsuit accuses reporter Mark Schwarz and producer Andy Berko of acting negligently in their reporting of the allegations against Bernie Fine and casting Laurie Fine in a false light by taking her words out of context.

This news comes just prior to Fine’s scheduled 11 a.m. press conference Wednesday, where an announcement of the lawsuit is to be made. She will reportedly file the lawsuit in federal court in the coming days.

The lawsuit goes on to say that ESPN “spitefully destroyed Laurie Fine’s reputation in an attempt to capitalize financially in the wake of the Penn State sex abuse scandal,” including publishing false and defamatory statements, among them that she created “a space in which children could be sexually molested in secret.”

Bernie Fine has not been charged and has denied any and all accusations against him.

Much of Fine’s case against ESPN will hinge on whether she is determined to be a public or private person, as the standards for libel are much higher for a public figure.

As the Post-Standard explains, as a private person, Fine would need to prove that ESPN departed grossly from journalistic standards by publishing the piece, and did so with “gross irresponsibility.”

Were it to be determined that she is a public figure, she would need to prove that ESPN published the report with malice and reckless disregard for the truth.

A link to the text of Fine’s lawsuit can be found here.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_