Former 49er Craig Newsome Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against NCAA

Craig Newsome.jpg
Courtesy of Harmann Studios and the Green Bay Packers. Used with permission.
Craig Newsome celebrates the Green Bay Packers' victory in Super Bowl XXXI following the 1996-97 NFL season
Former Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers defensive back Craig Newsome has joined the ranks of U.S. athletes suing the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Newsome and others allege that the organization's requirement that college athletes sign in-perpetuity agreements giving the NCAA's marketing arm, Collegiate Licensing Company, exclusive use of athletes' image amounts to a price-fixing conspiracy.

His suit, filed in San Francisco federal court Oct. 14, alleges that the NCAA illegally forced athletes to sign agreements giving away rights to profit from their images.

Newsom alleges that "the NCAA has unreasonably and illegally restrained trade in order to commercially exploit former student-athletes." What's more, the NCAA's Bylaws contain further provisions allowing for-profit third parties to benefit financially from the commercial exploitation of former student-athletes. Refusal to sign the forms described herein precludes student-athletes from participation on his or her respective team."

The complaint continues: "This exploitation lasts a lifetime as student-athletes are perpetually banned from benefiting from the use of their images. The NCAA's conduct is blatantly anti-competitive and exclusionary, as it nullifies any future ownership interests of former student-athletes in their own likeness--even long after student-athletes have ceased attending a university or participating in intercollegiate athletics"

Newsome's is the latest in a series of lawsuits challenging the NCAA's ability to control revenue from college sports. Last year, the NCAA agreed to pay $10 million to athletes to settle a suit that alleged NCAA rules restricting the amount of college athletic scholarships amounted to restraint of trade.

Other lawsuits challenged limits on payments to players, on the number of players receiving payment, and the rights of players to profit from their images.

Newsome attended Arizona State University before being drafted by the Packers in 1995. He was a mainstay of Green Bay's defense until a 1999 trade to the 49ers. Injuries curtailed Newsome's career after that single season in San Francisco.

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