Earlier this month, Federal Judge Claudia Wilken ruled that attorneys representing Ed O’Bannon and other former student-athletes in an antitrust action against the NCAA involving college athletes’ names, images and likenesses, may add current student-athletes to the class.
This ruling led plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Hausfeld of Hausfeld LLP to seek assurances from the NCAA that neither the association, nor its member schools, would seek retribution against current athletes seeking to join the class.
To that end, Hausfeld wrote a letter to the NCAA’s long-time outside counsel, Gregory Curtner of Schiff Hardin, LLP, seeking that assurance:
“Dear Mr. Curtner:
“During the hearing on class certification on June 20, 2013 before Judge Wilken, you represented to the Court that ‘if a current student athlete wants to sue to enforce their rights, whatever they may think they are, they – – they are free to do that. A current student athlete is currently pursuing a name, image, likeness case in Texas, and the NCA[A] is not taking any action against them.’
Your representation to the Court conveyed, both expressly and impliedly, that neither the NCAA nor any of its member institutions through their conferences, athletic departments or coaches would directly or indirectly undertake any action of retaliation, intimidation or coercion in any form against any such athlete, including, among other things, loss of scholarship, eligibility or playing time.
I have enclosed a stipulation to this effect and would appreciate if you would return an executed copy by July 12, 2013. Please feel free to make any modifications to the stipulation as appropriate. If, however, you decline to enter into the stipulation in any form, please advise us by that date so that we may proceed accordingly.
Michael D. Hausfeld”
NCAA Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Donald Remy responded immediately with the following statement:
“The NCAA has not seen the letter that the plaintiffs apparently have provided to the press instead, but to be clear the NCAA has stated publicly and in court that it does not and will not retaliate against any student athlete who participates in legal action, including anyone who may choose to participate in this litigation.”