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Ex-Kansas stars Chalmers, Collins file class-action lawsuit vs. NCAA, others over March Madness

Mario Chalmers
Posted at 11:16 AM, Jul 05, 2024

NEW YORK — Kansas stars Mario Chalmers and Sherron Collins are among 16 former men’s college basketball players who have sued the NCAA and multiple conferences, claiming they are profiting from the unauthorized use of their names, images and likenesses in promoting and monetizing the March Madness tournament.

Chalmers hit a 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds left to force overtime in the 2008 national championship game against Memphis on the way to the title. The lawsuit says the NCAA and Turner Sports Interactive – another defendant – have profited from replaying Chalmers’ shot without paying him.

The Big East, Pac-12, Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and ACC also are defendants in the class-action lawsuit, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.

“The NCAA has conspired with conferences, colleges, licensing companies, and apparel companies to fix the price of student-athlete labor near zero and make student-athletes unwitting and uncompensated lifetime pitchmen for the NCAA,” the lawsuit states.

The suit said March Madness generates close to $1 billion in annual revenue for the NCAA, but none has gone to the plaintiffs, who are seeking unspecified damages.

“The NCAA’s illegal conduct has damaged plaintiffs by diminishing their opportunity to maximize their compensation for their publicity rights, including their rights related to images related to the most profitable portion of NCAA’s revenue, basketball,” the suit says. “The full amount of this damage is currently unknown, and it continues to increase as the NCAA and its affiliates and co-conspirators continue to profit from the NCAA’s ongoing, uninterrupted usurpation of plaintiffs’ and class members publicity rights.”

An NCAA spokesperson declined comment Wednesday. The organization is already facing a number of federal lawsuits challenging its longstanding amateurism model and the case comes amidst dramatic changes that cleared the way for compensation of athletes.

A 2021 decision by the NCAA to allow athletes to earn endorsement money opened the door for millions of dollars in spending that has, among other things, changed how schools and donor-backed efforts target recruits. In May, the NCAA and the nation’s five biggest conferences agreed to pay nearly $2.8 billion to settle a host of antitrust claims, setting the stage for a revenue-sharing model that would send millions of dollars directly to athletes as soon as next year.

Other plaintiffs include Ryan Boatright (Connecticut), A.J. Bramlett, Eugene Edgerson and Jason Terry (Arizona), James Cunningham (Arizona State and Tulsa), Alex Oriakhi (Connecticut and Missouri) and Matt Pressey (Missouri).