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Former Buckeyes' star Spielman sues OSU and IMG for profiting off former players

Former linebacker Chris Spielman has filed a lawsuit against sports marketing company, IMG College, and The Ohio State University. (WSYX/WTTE)

Former linebacker Chris Spielman has filed a lawsuit against sports marketing company, IMG College, and The Ohio State University.

Spielman is known as one of the greatest linebackers to ever play for the Buckeyes.

The lawsuit claims OSU is conspiring with IMG College to deny former players the ability to profit off their names and likeness.

"Ohio State is more than welcome to always use my name and image, in anyway they want to use it. The problem comes in when they slap a corporate sponsor on my name and image, without my permission or without giving me the ability to negotiate, or any our players, ex-players," said Spielman.

It all started with 64 banners around Ohio Stadium, Spielman is on one of them. So is Honda.

Spielman's agent said Honda paid IMG or OSU, but he doesn't know the exact amount. Spielman already has an endorsement deal with Byers Mazda.

"I have a Mazda dealership and they just throw a Honda sticker on me," said Spielman.

Ohio State University workers said all of the banners were taken down Thursday, but Spielman is looking at a bigger issue and says it's not just about him.

"I want to be partners. I want it to be a win-win. If they want to use players name and images with a corporate sponsor, then the players should have some rights," said Spielman.

OSU Athletic Director Gene Smith released a statement and said the university values relationships with former student athletes. Smith said they are reviewing the lawsuit.

Spielman's agent said when OSU was confronted about the banners, it acknowledged owing compensation to former players. Spielman said he tried to negotiate a settlement, but OSU couldn't come to a number that was anywhere close to the value of the claim.

If Spielman wins the lawsuit, he said he will give the money to the OSU athletic department.

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