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Ex-athletes suing NCAA have new targets: TV networks

The ongoing lawsuit by former college athletes against the NCAA for continued use of their likeness is moving to new turf: networks.

A story by Steve Wieberg of USA Today reports that ESPN, CBS and other major networks were sent cease-and-desist letters Monday because they “have no right” to feature the names, images and likenesses of former college football and basketball players.

There’s no legal compulsion for the networks to comply. Yet.

“None yet,” Washington D.C. attorney Michael Hausfeld told USA Today. “But what it does is put all of those licensees on notice that they paid (the NCAA) for something they didn’t have and they could become involved in litigation. … You’ve got to get a license from the people and entities that own the rights.”

The letter also cites the NCAA’s acknowledgement that the likenesses “are at all times owned by the student athlete.”

An ESPN spokesman told the paper the network hadn’t received the letter late Monday and that it wouldn’t comment until it has.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.