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Original Issue

Court Time

Will Ed O'Bannon's historic victory withstand not-so-instant replay?

THE NCAA HAS petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to reverse Judge Claudia Wilken's judgment and vacate her injunction against the NCAA. Oral arguments before a three-judge panel will most likely take place by May, and both sides have requested a ruling before Wilken's injunction takes effect on Aug. 1. Barring appellate intervention, thousands of Division I football and men's basketball players will become eligible to receive compensation for the use of their names, images and likenesses in live television broadcasts, rebroadcasts and video games, as well as for scholarships that reflect the actual cost of attending college. Whichever side loses the appeal is likely to petition the same Ninth Circuit for an en banc rehearing before 11 judges.

The Ninth Circuit might not have the last word, however. Although the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to review slightly less than 1% of cases that petition to be heard by it, the odds of acceptance would be higher for O'Bannon v. NCAA. This case impacts thousands of past, present and future college students as well as coaches, television networks and video game companies. It also raises novel issues under antitrust law and impacts other NCAA litigation.

Appellate review is notoriously slow. O'Bannon has won, for now, but it could be a few years before his victory is deemed lasting or rendered obsolete.



GAME PLAN In May, EA Sports agreed to a $40 million settlement for using the likenesses of college players.