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Suit over likenesses gains more names

SAN FRANCISCO -- Former college basketball players spanning many eras have joined a lawsuit filed by ex-UCLA star Ed O'Bannon against the NCAA for profiting from the use of their images without permission.

In an amended complaint filed in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, four players involved in the 1966 national championship game that pitted a Texas Western team with five black starters against an all-white Kentucky team joined in the suit.

Those players include Harry Flournoy, who was team captain for Texas Western, which is now UTEP, which beat the 1966 Kentucky squad in a game now seen as a driving force in the integration of college sports. The game was also documented in the 2006 movie "Glory Road."

Texas Western teammate David Lattin and 1966 Kentucky players Thad Jaracz and Bob Tallent also joined the suit as plaintiffs.

The lawsuit states "during broadcasts of the yearly NCAA tournament, the NCAA has run commercials ... featuring the Texas Western team. The NCAA also prominently features the 1966 Texas Western team ... in connection with products for sale."

NCAA spokesman Erik Christianson says the allegations are false and that the NCAA does not license student-athlete likenesses or prevent former players from attempting to do so.

"The plaintiffs' claim that the NCAA violates antitrust laws because it somehow prevents former student-athletes from capitalizing on their collegiate images or likenesses is fiction," Christianson said in an e-mail.

The lawsuit also alleges video game maker Electronic Arts Inc., and NCAA partner Collegiate Licensing Co. also unlawfully profited from player images without compensating the athletes.

Players from other famous games and teams who also joined the suit include Alex Gilbert, who played on the same Indiana State team as Larry Bird in the notable 1979 championship game won by Earvin "Magic" Johnson's Michigan State squad.

Eric Riley, a member of the University of Michigan's "Fab Five" teams in the early 1990s is also a plaintiff in the suit, as are a number of former college football players including ex-University of Nebraska and Arizona State University quarterback Samuel Keller.