The Lawsuit That Looms Over College Football

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(from Wall Street Journal, November 19, 2013) Auburn University ‘s historic win this Saturday over Georgia will go down in history as one of the best football games in the 2013-2014 college season. With under one minute to play and Auburn trailing by a point, Nick Marshall, the quarterback of the Auburn Tigers, found his team facing an impossible fourth-and-eighteen at his own 27 yard line. Marshall launched a deep 40 yard pass that bounced off a few defenders and fell right into the hands of receiver Ricardo Lewis who ran it in for the game winning touchdown. Marshall and Lewis led their nationally top-ten ranked team to a win that could potentially give them the opportunity to play in the National Championship. However, Marshall and Lewis are making the news this week for a different reason.

Nick Marshall and Ricardo Lewis are two of several National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) players who are suing the NCAA college sports’ governing body. Marshall and Lewis are not the only players moving on with this action. In fact, most of the Division I football players the public saw this past Saturday were included in this lawsuit. The lawsuit, which was made public a couple weeks ago, is one where the players are seeking part of the college sports revenue. One major factor included in this revenue is the broadcast-rights contracts. The players are hoping to receive a small portion of the millions broadcasts generate.

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter, active member in a non-profit group called the National College Players Association (NCPA), believes most players do not know they are involved in a lawsuit. The NCPA is the closest college players have of becoming a union. However, unlike pro-sports unions, the NCPA does not have the authority to negotiate matters like TV revenue. Colter has said he is not looking for cash payments, but believes there should be an account funded by TV revenue that players can access after college. He states, “It’s only right to help out, really, the employees who are bringing in the money.” The money from these broadcasts is reaching up to ten million dollars, and the players are requesting 50%. Colter and other players remain positive and hope that this lawsuit has potential to become a reality.