Players from NC State's 1983 championship team file lawsuit against NCAA for NIL earnings

Michael Perchick Image
Tuesday, June 11, 2024
Players from NCSU's 1983 championship team suing for NIL earnings
A group of players from NC State's 1983 college basketball championship team is suing the NCAA for NIL earnings.

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- A group of players from NC State's 1983 college basketball championship team is suing the NCAA for NIL earnings.

"We just want to be treated fairly," said Cozell McQueen, one of ten players named as plaintiffs in the legal filing.

The lawsuit claims the NCAA used images and videos of the "Cardiac Pack" to advertise the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, among other commercial uses.

"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 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,"' added Mike Warren, another former player on the 1983 team.

The team was not allowed to earn any money during the 1983 season due to NCAA rules during that time.

"As scholarship athletes, when we were in school, you couldn't work," said Warren.

That changed when the Supreme Court ruled against the NCAA in an antitrust case in 2021. That 9-0 ruling pushed college athletics to where it is today with athletes being able to make money off of their name, image and likeness.

"I think the current landscape has identified these rights. I mean, just because it's recently become legal, it doesn't mean the act wasn't less illegal 40 years ago, right. Now, the market's changed somewhat, and I think that's a calculation that'll have to happen," said W Stacy Miller II of Miller Law Group, one of three firms working on the case.

The NC State team won the 1983 national championship after winning the ACC tournament and then the NCAA Tournament with an upset win over Houston in the championship game. Their victory was mentioned often during NC State's run to the Final Four this season, in which players were able to capitalize off of NIL.

"I think what NC State's run this year helps with is to show folks how valuable and remind people how valuable these types of achievements are. And so it's helpful, but certainly not necessary," said Elliot Abrams, an attorney with Cheshire Parker Schneider PLLC, who is representing the former players.

Plaintiffs in the case are Thurl Bailey, Alvin Battle, Walt Densmore, Tommy DiNardo, Terry Gannon, George McClain, Cozell McQueen, Walter Proctor, Harold Thompson and Mike Warren.

Sidney Lowe, Ernie Meyers and Dereck Whittenburg are not listed as plaintiffs in the case, nor are the estates of Lorenzo Charles and Quinton Leonard.

"We are a very close team and we are fully together on this," said Warren.

Warren pointed to Meyers and Whittenburg's respective employment at NC State as an issue that needs to be sorted out, while Lowe was busy with professional obligations to move forward as a plaintiff at this time. McQueen said the two estates will ultimately be added to the suit.

The plaintiffs have requested a trial by jury.

"We think it's a groundbreaking case. This is a groundbreaking story," said Miller.

The NCAA has not responded to the lawsuit.

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