Former great Spielman suing Ohio St.
COLUMBUS, OHIO» 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.
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.
The university is aware of the lawsuit and is reviewing it, athletic director Gene Smith said Friday.
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."