For­mer great Spiel­man su­ing Ohio St.

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By An­drew Welsh-Huggins

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."

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