10 members of NC State’s 1983 basketball champs sue NCAA over NIL compensation

Basketball  court

Members of the 1982-83 North Carolina State basketball team want to be compensated for their one shining moment.

Ten players from the Wolfpack’s 1983 national championship squad filed a lawsuit against the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company on Monday, alleging that both organizations have been using their names, images and likenesses without their permission.

The lawsuit was filed in Wake County Superior Court in North Carolina, The Athletic reported. The plaintiffs are requesting a jury trial and “reasonable compensation for the appropriation of” the players’ names, images and likenesses,” according to The Associated Press.

The plaintiffs include former players Thurl Bailey, Alvin Battle, Walt Densmore, Tommy DiNardo, Terry Gannon, George McClain, Cozell McQueen, Walter Proctor, Harold Thompson and Mike Warren, The Athletic reported.

“We just want to be treated fairly,” McQueen told WTVD. “You’re on TV for 40 plus years, every year and you can see the value of the enterprise that is promoted grow and grow and grow. I think anybody could look at that and reasonably say, they contributed and now to be treated fairly.”

The 1982-83 Wolfpack, coached by the late Jim Valvano, pulled off one of college basketball’s biggest upsets in the NCAA men’s championship game. North Carolina State, stunned Houston 54-52 when Dereck Whittenburg missed a 30-foot shot that was grabbed in midair and dunked by Lorenzo Charles for the winning score at the buzzer.

The Wolfpack was known as the “Cardiac Pack” because of their close victories during the NCAA Tournament, The Athletic reported.

The lawsuit argued that the NCAA has continued to use images, videos and the names of members of the 1983 team while promoting college basketball and the NCAA Tournament without the former players’ consent and without compensating them for it, according to the sports news outlet.

The suit said the NIL usage continues to generate revenue for the NCAA after athletes leave college.

“But for the illegal, unethical, and unscrupulous conduct of the NCAA and its co-conspirators, described above, Plaintiffs would have been paid substantial lsums for the use of their names, images, and likenesses in the NCAA’s advertisements and other promotional efforts,” the lawsuit alleges. “Therefore, substantial funds that the NCAA has received -- and continues to receive to this day -- through the misappropriation of Plaintiffs’ names, images, and likenesses belong to Plaintiffs.”

“I think is something that a lot of people can look back and say ‘I didn’t think about that, but it makes a lot of sense today,”’ Warren told WTVD.

“It’s the Cinderella story of Cinderella stories,” Stacy Miller of Miller Law Group, lead counsel for the case, told the Raleigh News & Observer.

“We’ve been an incredibly close group of guys for over 40 years. One of the factors in our success, I believe, was how close we were as a team,” Warren told the newspaper. “That’s continued for our lifetime to this point as adults. We’re friends, we know each other’s families, we stay in touch. Everyone was a part of this decision.”

An NCAA spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Athletic.

Charles died in 2011. Whittenburg, who is not among the plaintiffs, is a staff member in the North Carolina State athletic department, according to The Associated Press. Valvano, who is memorably shown on videos dashing and spinning around the court looking for someone to hug after the victory, died of cancer in April 1993.

The NCAA and the nation’s five biggest conferences recently agreed to pay nearly $2.8 billion to settle several antitrust claims, pending the approval of a judge, according to the AP.

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