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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Should College Athletes have control over their Rights of Publicity?

I believe totally that college athletes should be paid for the amount of money they generate for the NCAA each year, but these athletes don’t have any control over their Rights of Publicity. The Right of Publicity is the right of every person to control the commercial use of his/her identity, often applied to an individual’s persona. A persona encompasses things such as a person’s likeness, nickname, performance style or mannerisms (Mueller, 2004).

One specific case where a former athlete, Ed O’Bannon, is fighting for his Rights of Publicity as well as the rights of other former and current NCAA athletes in a classic action lawsuit against the NCAA. Ed O’Bannon was a former UCLA forward who led them to a national championship, scoring 30 points and pulling down 17 rebounds in the win (, 2010). Today, O’Bannon coaches a high school basketball team and is a car dealer in Las Vegas, but the NCAA still profits off of his likeness. Whether it is his image, re-broad casts of games or in video game form, the NCAA still makes money through the sales of licensed merchandise. O’Bannon states in his lawsuit that the NCAA makes about 4 billion dollars annually on collegiate licensed merchandise (, 2010).

In my opinion, O’Bannon feels taken advantage of by the NCAA. The modern day college athlete has been referred to as a “slave” on the NCAA “plantation” because college athletes do not get paid but the NCAA makes an incredible amount of money from the talents of these collegiate athletes. It seems only right for the NCAA to start sharing this money with the people they exploit year in and year out. Student athletes are not allowed to get jobs or receive any money from their scholarships and should get some sort of monthly stipend. I understand that some athletes go on to make millions playing professional sports but what about the 90% of student athletes who do not make it? Just something to think about.

Drake, S. (2010). Sports Illustrated Michael Mann on the NCAA lawsuit. Legal Broadcast Network. Retrieved on 11/27/10 from: (2010). Former college athletes sue NCAA over licensing. Retrieved on 11/27/10 from:

Mueller, K. (2004). No control over their rights of publicity: College athletes left sitting the bench. LexisNexis. Retrieved on 11/27/10 from:

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