The argument about paying college athletes has gone on for decades.
However, the size of recent contracts for college sports broadcast rights—running in the billions of dollars—keeps pushing the issue back into the spotlight. Add to that the money collected from college player likenesses on T-shirts and video games, and an issue of fairness is at stake, analysts said.
"The revenue generated from all this is so huge and creates so much money for the top 30-40 programs in the country, it's hard to say these kids don't deserve some of it since they are providing the entertainment," said Rishe.
The counterargument is that student-athletes are already being compensated with a sports scholarship that covers their college education.
Also, the NCAA has players sign a waiver that in essence makes them give up any right to make money off their likenesses as an NCAA athlete.
(Read more: More political drama ahead at the 2014 Olympics)
However, one former college athlete said the scholarship argument misses a key point.
"They don't really cover the costs of everything," said Ramogi Huma, himself a UCLA football player in the mid-1990's, who is currently the executive director of the National College Players Association, an advocacy group for college athletes' rights.
"The scholarships fell about $3-$5,000 short of costs when I played, and it's the same today," he argued.
"And if for some reason I had stopped going to practice or missed a game, the money wouldn't be there," Huma said. "Also, if an athlete gets hurt and can't play anymore, the scholarship is over."
Huma is not involved in the O'Bannon lawsuit.