BY AARON BRENNER
CLEMSON – The Ed O’Bannon case building against the NCAA for using likenesses of college players without compensation picked up six current student-athletes as plaintiffs Thursday, and Clemson cornerback Darius Robinson is leading the pack.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated Friday, Robinson said he wanted to make some extra spending money on the side of his university-earned tuition, room and board. Because a part-time retail job would hinder his commitment to the Tigers, he looked into starting his own business selling cell phones and plans.
But Clemson’s compliance officers urged him not to, warning Robinson his eligibility with the NCAA could be in danger.
“According to the NCAA, the rule is that a student-athlete can have his own business,” Robinson told SI. “But they were saying that I couldn’t have it because I couldn’t detach my name from it. They were saying I couldn’t promote it. ... I didn’t see a reason for me having a business if I couldn’t promote it.”
Robinson and five other football players joined the fight Thursday; the senior from College Park, Ga. and three-year letterman in the Tigers’ secondary is the only ACC representative.
The NCAA announced Wednesday it would discontinue its licensing relationship with EA Sports, shortly after the release of NCAA Football 14 on July 9. The popular video game takes information from real players for the game: their appearance, their height, their weight, even their specific strengths and weaknesses.
Everything, except their name. College football players don’t make a dime off the product.
“It’s as close as it gets,” Robinson said. “Size, ratings. I don’t have the best hands as a corner, so I always drop interceptions on the video game.”
The O’Bannon case, if it reaches a class action lawsuit, could mean billions of dollars in damages from the NCAA.
Robinson did maintain his primary focus is on helping Clemson win football games in 2013.
“This is definitely something that I would love to get involved in, because I really do believe in it,” he said.