NC State 1983 national championship team sues NCAA over NIL compensation

Ten players from the 1983 North Carolina State men’s basketball team that won the national championship have filed a lawsuit against the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company for unauthorized use of their names, images and likenesses.

The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and “reasonable compensation” for earnings tied to the NCAA’s use of the players and their names in videos and images in promoting college basketball and the NCAA tournament without their consent. The suit alleges that the NCAA continues to generate revenue without properly compensating the athletes with NIL earnings.

NC State, coached by the legendary Jim Valvano, upset Houston 54–52 in the 1983 national championship game.

The 10 players from the “Cardiac Pack” listed as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Thurl Bailey, Alvin Battle, Walt Densmore, Tommy DiNardo, Terry Gannon, George McClain, Cozell McQueen, Walter Proctor, Harold Thompson and Mike Warren. Lawyers for the players filed the lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court (N.C.) on Monday.

“For more than 40 years,” reads the lawsuit, according to the Raleigh News & Observer, “the NCAA and its co-conspirators have systematically and intentionally misappropriated the Cardiac Pack’s publicity rights — including their names, images, and likenesses — associated with that game and that play, reaping scores of millions of dollars from the Cardiac Pack’s legendary victory.”

The lawsuit argues that “student-athletes’ value to the NCAA does not end with their graduation,” according to The Associated Press. “Archival footage and other products constitute an ongoing income stream for the NCAA long after the students whose images are used have moved on from college.”

“The NCAA has profited off of our team, and they’ve done the same off of other teams and other athletes. It’s not as if it was a one-off thing,” Warren told the News & Observer. “Especially in our case, it’s been 40 years. I do believe that we would really like to see some equitable treatment across the board for everyone that’s helped promote college athletics.”

Lorenzo Charles, who made the game-winning shot in the national title game for the 1983 Wolfpack and died in a 2011 bus accident, and Dereck Whittenburg, who currently works in the NC State athletic department, are the two players not involved in the lawsuit. Charles’ dunk, which finished off a desperation shot by Whittenburg, is replayed frequently each year during the NCAA tournament.

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