The Washington Times - September 2, 2008, 11:13AM

Leaders in college sports are once again speaking out against the use of their athletes in fantasy games. The co-chairs of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics penned a letter in the Los Angeles Times on Saturday protesting “infringements on athletes’ rights and the principles of amateur sports.”

In particular, they targeted CBS Sports, which launched a new fantasy game this year involving college football players.


The Knight Commission is chaired by University System of Maryland Chancellor William Kirwan and Southern Methodist University President R. Gerald Turner. Their concern on the fantasy issue comes after a court ruling that, according to game operators, legalized the use of the names and stats of all athletes for fantasy purposes.

Courts ruled that names and stats of athletes are part of the public domain, not owned by players or sports leagues. The U.S. Surpeme Court decided against hearing appeals of the decision. (For some good analysis of the case, go to the always helpful Sports Law Blog.)

In that case, however, the issue dealt specifically with players in Major League Baseball, not amateurs. And that’s why the NCAA is weighing in.


“Legal scholars disagree about whether this ruling applies to amateur athletes who are not compensated for their participation and cannot earn money from endorsements.

We believe that the NCAA, universities and college athletes should take firm positions that this ruling does not apply to amateur sports — and that all those groups should contact fantasy game operators to formally demand they stop using students’ names in these games. Unless the courts clearly decide that amateur athletes’ names can be used without consent and for purely commercial purposes, the NCAA and universities have the responsibility to stand up for their athletes and the amateurism principles that should guide college sports.”

What’s still unclear, however, is what the NCAA plans to do about the issue. The Knight Commission is urging the NCAA, colleges and athletes to write letters to fantasy operators demanding they stop. But it seems unlikely that CBS Sports and others would simply cease operating because they were asked to.

Will this mean another legal challenge? Stay tuned ….