Ten members of 1983 NC State basketball title team sue NCAA over unauthorized NIL use

Ten players from NC State’s 1983 national championship basketball team have sued the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company for using their names, images and likenesses without their permission.

Lawyers for the group of players, which includes Thurl Bailey, Alvin Battle, Walt Densmore, Tommy DiNardo, Terry Gannon, George McClain, Cozell McQueen, Walter Proctor, Harold Thompson and Mike Warren, filed the suit in Wake County Superior Court (N.C.) on Monday. The group requested a trial by jury and is seeking “reasonable compensation for the appropriation of” the players’ names, images and likenesses.

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. The suit said the NIL use 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
sums for the use of their names, images, and likenesses in the NCAA’s advertisements and other promotional efforts,” the suit said. “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.”

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

NC State’s 1983 team, nicknamed the Cardiac Pack, remains one of the best Cinderella stories in NCAA Tournament history as it won a series of close games to reach the national championship. The Wolfpack beat Houston for the title after Lorenzo Charles caught teammate Dereck Whittenburg’s air ball and dunked it as the buzzer sounded to win 54-52. The game became an instant classic, and video of Charles’ dunk and coach Jim Valvano’s reaction continues to be used during March Madness coverage.

Charles died in 2011. Whittenburg works for NC State and is not listed as a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

(Photo: Nell Redmond / USA Today)

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