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10 former college athletes sue networks, leagues

Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A group of 10 former college athletes have filed a proposed class action, antitrust lawsuit against several television networks and college conferences, including ESPN, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and the Southeastern Conference, for profiting off their names and likenesses without their permission in both ads and televising games.

The lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Nashville features former Vanderbilt safety Javon Marshall as lead plaintiff along with former teammates Eric Samuels and Steven Clarke. The lawsuit wants a class action for all current and former players in the Football Bowl Subdivision and Division I men’s basketball.

In the lawsuit, plaintiffs allege the release student-athletes are forced to sign is “unconscionable, and vague,” rendering it void and unenforceable.

“The conspiracy between and among the Broadcast Defendants, Licensing Defendants, Conference Defendants and the NCAA has created a marketplace resembling a plantation type arrangement where Defendants financially benefit in the collective amount of billions of dollars, while Student Athletes, the driving force of college sports, receive nothing more than their cost of attendance,” according to the lawsuit.

ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz declined to comment Tuesday. SEC spokesman Herb Vincent said the league does not comment on pending litigation.

Marshall last played in 2013 when Vanderbilt went 9-4 and finished in the Top 25, and the lawsuit notes he played in several games televised in prime time. But the lawsuit noted he never received any compensation for the commercial use of his name and image by the defendants.

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