Sep 06, 2017

Former Student Athlete Sues University for Using his Likeness

Spielman v. IMG College, LLC, 17-cv-00612 (S.D. Ohio)
By Casey Mock

On July 14, 2017, Chris Spielman, a former NFL All-Pro and NCAA All-American linebacker, filed a class action lawsuit against The Ohio State University and IMG College.  Spielman brought the action on behalf of former and current student-athletes claiming that the Defendants licensed or sold images of student-athletes to corporate sponsors to be used on banners when the athletes never agreed to appear on the banners and received no compensation for the use of the images.  Spielman also claims that the University’s licensing agreements using former and current player’s images have unreasonably and illegally restrained trade to commercially exploit former student athletes because the athletes have no future ownership interests in their own images.

The complaint alleges that the University and its commercial partners reap millions of dollars from revenue streams exploiting the images and likenesses of the athletes while the student-athletes receive no compensation at all in violation of the Sherman Act (15 U.S.C. § 1).  Spielman seeks relief of monetary damages, an accounting of money received by the Defendants in connection with the exploitation of the student-athlete images, and an injunction preventing the University and the other Defendants from entering into any other contracts or agreements regarding future compensation rights with respect to Spielman and other student-athletes.