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NCAA/EA Sports' Ed O'Bannon defense? Some players don't match

The NCAA and EA could try to evade liability in the O'Bannon case by showing that some player likenesses don't match their real-life counterparts.

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Streeter Lecka

The NCAA and EA Sports are threatened by litigation claiming they have used the names and likenesses of athletes without compensation, but one of their possible defenses is that some of the players don't really match.

Former UConn guard Tate George was presented with screengrabs from the 2006 edition of NCAA Basketball, which included teams from past years, including the 1990 UConn team he was a part of, and asked whether the player that wore his number resembled him:

Curtner: "But you did wear Number 32?"

George: "Yes."

Q: And do you agree that that Number 32 belonged to the University of Connecticut, not to you?

A: From what I was told, yes.

Q: And, certainly, the Huskies logo belongs to the University of Connecticut and not to you?

A: Correct.

Q: And you would not say that that looks like you as you appeared in 1990?

A: No. I'm cuter.

The plaintiffs, led by former UCLA basketball star Ed O'Bannon, contend that EA attempted to get as many in-game player characteristics as possible to match their real-life counterparts, and that the NCAA allowed them to do so while not offering compensation for those players in return.

For more on the case: Ed O'Bannon vs. the NCAA

A class action certification hearing for the case is scheduled for June 20. If the plaintiffs are allowed to certify as a class and pursue litigation as a group, the potential liability for the NCAA and EA could be astronomical.

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