Monday June 18th, 2018 3:37AM

Ex-player sues Ohio St. for using image in marketing program

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — One of Ohio State's most famous football stars sued the university Friday over a marketing program he says used athletes' images without permission and robbed them of compensation.

Linebacker Chris Spielman filed the class-action lawsuit in federal court in Columbus on behalf of current and former Ohio State football players.

The antitrust complaint targets Ohio State marketing programs and contracts that promote the university using likenesses of athletes, including a Honda-sponsored program of 64 banners hung around Ohio Stadium featuring photos of former players.

In addition to Spielman, some of the other Ohio State greats whose pictures appear on those banners include running back Archie Griffin, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1974 and 1975; lineman Jim Stillwagon, who played on the 1968 national championship team; and Mike Doss, a safety who played on the 2002 national championship team.

All are among the athletes Spielman is suing on behalf of, said Brian Duncan, a Columbus attorney who represents Spielman.

The lawsuit names Ohio State and talent management giant IMG as defendants and names Honda and Nike as co-conspirators. Nike is targeted for its "Legends of the Scarlet and Gray" vintage jersey licensing program and other apparel contracts with Ohio State.

The lawsuit accuses the university and the companies of "unjust and monopolistic behaviors" and asks for compensation above $75,000, as is typical in such complaints, while noting Ohio State makes millions in revenue from merchandising programs involving ex-athletes.

"Former OSU student-athletes do not share in these revenues even though they have never given informed consent to the widespread and continued commercial exploitation of their images," the lawsuit said.

The university is aware of the lawsuit and is reviewing it, athletic director Gene Smith said Friday.

"We immensely value our relationships with all of our former student athletes," Smith said in a statement.

A message seeking comment was left with New York-based IMG. Brian Strong, a spokesman for Beaverton, Oregon-based Nike Inc., said Friday the company is aware of the lawsuit but doesn't comment on pending litigation.

Honda said it has a three-decade-old relationship with Ohio State, and "we hope this matter will be resolved quickly."

Spielman sued in his own right and on behalf of a newly formed company, Profectus Group Inc., created by ex-Ohio State wrestling standout Mike DiSbato, representing former college athletes. Griffin is also affiliated with the company, Duncan said.

The filing comes after eight months of unsuccessful negotiations with the university, Duncan said.

Spielman said he'll donate any money he receives from the lawsuit directly to the university's athletic department. He called the ability to negotiate corporate use of his name and image "a basic human right."

"Ohio State is more than welcome to always use my name and image in any way they want to use it," Spielman told 610 WTVN Radio on Friday.

"The problem comes in when they slap a corporate sponsor on my name and image without my permission, or without giving me the ability to negotiate — or any of our ex-players to negotiate — with that corporation," he said.

Spielman also said attaching his name to Honda puts him in a difficult situation given a separate sponsorship deal he has with a local Mazda dealership.

Griffin told The Associated Press he fully supports the rights of former athletes to receive compensation from corporations and universities that benefit from the unauthorized use of players' names and likenesses.

"There is no greater supporter of collegiate athletics than me, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunities provided to me as a former student athlete," Griffin said in a statement. "However, the recent landscape of collegiate athletics has changed, and these institutions and corporations have a duty to treat all former athletes fairly."

Griffin plans to donate his proceeds to a nonprofit affiliated with the Profectus Group, which will serve as a players assistance fund for ex-Ohio State athletes in need.

The lawsuit is the latest development in a trend of athletes fighting for compensation they say they're owed as a result of their participation in intercollegiate sports.

Earlier this year, the NCAA and 11 major athletic conferences announced they agreed to pay $208.7 million to settle a federal class-action lawsuit filed by former college athletes who claimed the value of their scholarships was illegally capped.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court left in place lower-court rulings that said the NCAA's use of names, images and likenesses of college athletes without compensation violated antitrust law. The lawsuit was originally brought by former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon and later joined by other athletes.

After that ruling, athletic departments should know better than to undertake the kind of licensing arrangements with former athletes that Spielman is targeting in his lawsuit, said John Grady, a University of South Carolina professor of sport law.

"You can't use someone's image from however many years ago without compensation, given O'Bannon," Grady said Friday.


Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached on Twitter at

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, College Sports, AP Entertainment, APOnline Celebrity News, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Sports - College Football
© Copyright 2018
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Ex-player sues Ohio St. for using image in marketing program
Some of Ohio State's most famous student-athletes have sued the university over a marketing program the ex-athletes say used their photos without permission and robbed them of compensation
4:59PM ( 4 minutes ago )
2 homes, 1 boat swallowed by growing sinkhole in Florida
A sinkhole in Florida swallowed a boat, destroyed two houses and prompted officials to evacuate residents from about a dozen homes Friday
4:54PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Citigroup profit falls 3 percent, hurt by credit costs
Citigroup profit falls 3 percent as bank sets aside more money to cover souring loans
4:52PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Federer enjoys seeing who is in Royal Box
Even Roger Federer gets a kick out of seeing what sports greats and celebrities make it into the Royal Box at Centre Court
4:31PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Kenseth has no regrets over end of the ride with Joe Gibbs
Matt Kenseth has no hard feelings toward Joe Gibbs Racing after he was dumped by the race team this week and has no concerns about his future, even though he has yet to land a job for 2018
4:19PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Into 11th Wimbledon final, Federer faces Cilic for 8th title
Federer goes for record 8th men's Wimbledon title when he faces Marin Cilic in final
4:15PM ( 48 minutes ago )
AP Sports
Education official apologizes anew, this time to victims
The Education Department's civil rights chief says she's sorry for making "flippant" remarks attributing 90 percent of campus sexual assault claims to both parties being drunk
9:43PM ( 19 hours ago )
Clemson's Swinney not worried about replacing missing pieces
Dabo Swinney isn't concerned about losing more than 77 percent of his team's offensive production from last season's national championship team
7:56PM ( 21 hours ago )
Florida State's Jimbo Fisher eager to tackle tough start
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher hopes his players will be ready for a demanding opening month that could quickly determine whether the Seminoles are playoff contenders
7:02PM ( 22 hours ago )
AP Online Football
Louisville's Jackson won't focus on a rare Heisman repeat
Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson isn't entering his junior season focused on becoming only the second player to twice win the Heisman Trophy
3:32PM ( 1 day ago )
Police release arrest video of Buffalo Bills player in Ohio
Police have released cruiser and body cam video of Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Adolphus Washington's arrest in Ohio on a weapons charge
9:58PM ( 1 day ago )
Several SEC coaches facing questions about job security
Gus Malzahn and Kevin Sumlin got their Southeastern Conference head coaching tenures off to blazing starts
7:00PM ( 1 day ago )
College Sports
New York museum recreates scene of Nazi war criminal's trial
A New York museum is recreating the Jerusalem court where Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann was tried in 1961 for engineering the deaths of millions of Jews
4:18PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Rapper DMX pleads not guilty to dodging $1.7M tax debt
Rapper DMX has pleaded not guilty to charges he's been dodging the IRS
3:12PM ( 1 hour ago )
Fresh Kid Ice of 2 Live Crew dies in Miami at age 53
A founding member of the Miami hip-hop group 2 Live Crew has died
2:25PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Entertainment
Judith Light remembers late manager after Emmy nomination
Judith Light is celebrating her first Emmy nomination without her manger of 36 years
8:58PM ( 20 hours ago )
Rapper DMX busted on tax fraud charges
Rapper DMX has been arrested in New York on federal tax fraud charges
8:36PM ( 20 hours ago )
Emmy nominations pit mainstream programs against niche fare
The 11 Emmys scored by NBC's mainstream hit "This Is Us" hint at a comeback for broadcast TV's cultural relevance
6:20PM ( 22 hours ago )
APOnline Celebrity News
Top House Republican says budget plan to move ahead
A Republican leader says the House is moving ahead with the party's long-overdue budget blueprint, even as divisions between moderates and conservatives over cutting programs like food stamps threaten passage of the measure
4:31PM ( 33 minutes ago )
Amtrak praises riders, calls 1st week of repairs 'very good'
Amtrak is calling the first week of summer-long track work at New York's Penn Station 'very good'
4:19PM ( 44 minutes ago )
The Latest: Louisiana gets money in latest health care bill
Louisiana will get more money under the new version of the Republican health care bill
4:08PM ( 56 minutes ago )
AP Business
Donnelly selling stock in family company using Mexican labor
Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly says he's selling his stock in a family business that relies on Mexican labor to produce dye for ink pads
1:31PM ( 3 hours ago )
JPMorgan's Dimon lashes out at Washington over gridlock
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon lashes out at Washington, news media
11:54AM ( 5 hours ago )
US retail sales fall for a 2nd month as consumers pull back
US retail sales declined 0.2 percent in June; spending down at restaurants, department stores and gasoline stations
10:57AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Alabama's Nick Saban hopes team learns from failure
Alabama's Nick Saban hopes team learns from title game failure
6:28PM ( 1 day ago )
Ex-coach Houston Nutt sues Ole Miss, alleging smear campaign
Former Mississippi coach Houston Nutt has filed a civil lawsuit against the university and its athletics foundation, alleging a breach of his contract because of false statements made by school officials during an ongoing NCAA investigation
4:41PM ( 2 days ago )
It's Saban & Sumlin's turns at the podium at SEC media days
It's Nick Saban and Alabama's turn at Southeastern Conference media days
2:22AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Sports - College Football
2 homes, 1 boat swallowed by growing sinkhole in Florida
A sinkhole in Florida swallowed a boat, destroyed two houses and prompted officials to evacuate residents from about a dozen homes Friday
4:54PM ( 10 minutes ago )
Citigroup profit falls 3 percent, hurt by credit costs
Citigroup profit falls 3 percent as bank sets aside more money to cover souring loans
4:52PM ( 12 minutes ago )
Modest gains push US stocks indexes to record highs
Gains by big technology and health care companies pushed U.S. stocks modestly higher Friday, lifting several major indexes to new highs
4:50PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Trump, administration press Republicans to back health bill
President Donald Trump and other administration are lobbying Republicans from both sides of the Atlantic to back the Senate GOP's reworked health care bill
4:49PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Travel ban ruling paves way for more refugees but appeal set
A court decision on President Donald Trump's travel ban has reopened a window to tens of thousands of refugees to enter the United States and the government is looking to quickly close it
4:41PM ( 22 minutes ago )