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Spielman makes passionate case for former players in dispute against OSU

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COLUMBUS -- One of Ohio State's most famous football stars sued the university over a marketing program he says used athletes' images without permission and robbed them of compensation.

Linebacker Chris Spielman filed the class-action lawsuit one week ago in federal court in Columbus on behalf of current and former Ohio State football players.

Spielman told ABC-6 Friday he's hoping to form a partnership with Ohio State the way it used to be.

"We used to share in the revenue," Spielman told ABC-6's Clay Hall. "Remember those special jersey and the bobbleheads ?"

The antitrust complaint targets Ohio State marketing programs and contracts that promote the university using likenesses of athletes, including a Honda-sponsored program of 64 banners hung around Ohio Stadium featuring photos of former players.

In addition to Spielman, some of the other Ohio State greats whose pictures appear on those banners include running back Archie Griffin, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1974 and 1975; lineman Jim Stillwagon, who played on the 1968 national championship team; and Mike Doss, a safety who played on the 2002 national championship team.

All are among the athletes Spielman is suing on behalf of, said Brian Duncan, a Columbus attorney who represents Spielman.

The lawsuit names Ohio State and talent management giant IMG as defendants and names Honda and Nike as co-conspirators. Nike is targeted for its "Legends of the Scarlet and Gray" vintage jersey licensing program and other apparel contracts with Ohio State.

The lawsuit accuses the university and the companies of "unjust and monopolistic behaviors" and asks for compensation above $75,000, as is typical in such complaints, while noting Ohio State makes millions in revenue from merchandising programs involving ex-athletes.

"Former OSU student-athletes do not share in these revenues even though they have never given informed consent to the widespread and continued commercial exploitation of their images," the lawsuit said.

The university is aware of the lawsuit and is reviewing it, according to athletic director Gene Smith.

"We immensely value our relationships with all of our former student athletes," Smith said in a statement.

riffin told The Associated Press he fully supports the rights of former athletes to receive compensation from corporations and universities that benefit from the unauthorized use of players' names and likenesses.

"There is no greater supporter of collegiate athletics than me, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunities provided to me as a former student athlete," Griffin said in a statement. "However, the recent landscape of collegiate athletics has changed, and these institutions and corporations have a duty to treat all former athletes fairly."

Griffin plans to donate his proceeds to a nonprofit affiliated with the Profectus Group, which will serve as a players assistance fund for ex-Ohio State athletes in need.

The lawsuit is the latest development in a trend of athletes fighting for compensation they say they're owed as a result of their participation in intercollegiate sports.

Earlier this year, the NCAA and 11 major athletic conferences announced they agreed to pay $208.7 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit filed by former college athletes who claimed the value of their scholarships was illegally capped.


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