On the heels of the popular March Madness National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) Basketball tournament, and following Northwestern University student-athletes’ success in unionizing, the extent of student-athlete publicity rights is now more contentious than ever. The divide between an ever-profiting NCAA and exploited NCAA student-athletes has sparked an evolving class-action lawsuit by former student-athletes, who challenge the licensing of their images and likenesses. This lawsuit has become a landmark test of the NCAA’s governance and notions about amateurism in college athletics. The outcome of this case will be a possible sign that compensation for both current and former student-athletes may be on the horizon. Regardless of the current litigation’s outcome, both publicity rights standards and the NCAA’s governance are at stake. In turn, a fair NCAA with a new set of regulations is likely to open up a whole new class of legal representation for athletic agents and lawyers negotiating on student-athletes’ behalf.
Frank Battaglia, An Evolving NCAA Leading To an Expanding Client List, 13 J. Marshall Rev. Intell. Prop. L. 463 (2014)