The possibility of college athletes getting a piece of the NCAA's television money increased slightly Tuesday.
A federal judge in California rejected a request to dismiss a lawsuit filed by former UCLA basketball player Ed O'Bannon against the NCAA. A certification hearing for the anti-trust lawsuit is scheduled for June 20 before U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken.
The suit seeks a portion of TV and licensing revenue for former college athletes, though it's possible current college athletes could join the suit.
"Now the (NCAA and its co-defendants) are facing potential liability that's based on the billions of dollars in revenue instead of tens or hundreds of millions," said Michael Hausfeld, interim lead counsel for the plaintiffs, according to ESPN.com. "It's a more accurate context for what the players deserve."
Wilken ruled against the NCAA's motion that the suit not be given class-action status.
"The NCAA tried to short-circuit their exposure," Hausfeld said, according to the Birmingham (Ala.) News. "The judge has basically said it's an open field and everything will be considered by her. Now, she may eventually deny them on their merit, but she's not going to dismiss them as a procedural defect."
Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson are among the former athletes teaming with O'Bannon on the lawsuit, ESPN.com reported.
NCAA general counsel Donald Remy said in a statement, "Although our motion to strike was denied, the judge has signaled skepticism on plaintiff's class-certification motion and recognized the plaintiffs' radical change in their theory of the case. This is a step in the right direction toward allowing the NCAA to further demonstrate why this case is wrong on the law and that plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate that this case satisfies the criteria for class litigation."
College athletes currently get no financial compensation from TV or licensing revenue.