Vanderbilt senior linebacker Chase Garnham was one of six NCAA football players in July to join as a plaintiff in O’Bannon vs. NCAA case concerning the use of college athletes’ likenesses without compensation. Pieces of Garnham’s testimony surfaced in a report in The Birmingham News Tuesday where Garnham “reluctantly signed a form before the season” that gave Vanderbilt “permission to use his name, image and likeness.”
According to the report, testimony showed that Garnham testified on Oct. 11 that he was told by athletic director David Williams that he could not play without signing the aforementioned form.
“They told me that they didn’t know how I would play if I did not sign those forms, that no one has ever not signed those forms before,” Garnham said, according to court transcripts.
Garnham later signed the form after consulting his attorney, but included “a note at the bottom of the form expressing my understanding that I had to sign the form in order to play, not just to be eligible.” According to the report, a Vanderbilt official followed up with an email to Garnham saying he was “not required to sign these portions of the forms to be eligible to play on the Vanderbilt football team.”
Lawyers in the O’Bannon case allege that athletes must sign away their name, image and likeness rights in order to eligible. The NCAA has denied this claim.
According to the report, Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s vice president for academic and membership affairs, testified that an athlete who decides not to sign a consent form “would not lose his or her eligibility to play NCAA sports.”
Garnham testified that after he signed the form, he received an email from associate athletic director Candice Storey Lee after Garnham wanted to consult his attorney before signing the portion of the forms that relate to the use of his name and likeness. Lee explained that he was not required to sign to be eligible to play on the football team.
Garnham suffered a leg injury in the season-opener, limiting him to just five games played this season. His 10-tackle performance against Tennessee earned him SEC defensive player of the week last month.
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H/T USA Today