Former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon's suit against the NCAA got a boost on Monday when a Federal Judge ordered ESPN to turn over their licensing and television contracts for men's basketball and football. According to Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated, the documents encompass ESPN's deals with the NCAA for Division I basketball and football since 2005. U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello signed the order compelling ESPN to produce the documents to O'Bannon.
ESPN is not a target of O'Bannon's lawsuit, but the documents will help his legal team get a frame of reference on just how much the NCAA profits from college athletes' names and likenesses. This is the crux of O'Bannon's suit, that the NCAA has denied former collegiate athletes money for using their names and likenesses commercially. Getting a sense of the financial terms of these media contracts will help O'Bannon's argument, and also have an impact on any damages if the suit were successful (or settled).
ESPN vehemently opposed O'Bannon's request, arguing that the discovery undertaking would be unduly burdensome and that the contracts were confidential. But Covello sided with O'Bannon, forcing the worldwide leader to produce the relevant contracts.