Tomorrow will mark the one-month anniversary since the plaintiffs and Electronic Arts reached a $40 million settlement in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit. Now, the thousands of players who joined the suit as plaintiffs are one step closer to receiving some compensation, as the courts ruled today that the former players will get up to $5,000.
These players were part of a lawsuit that challenged the NCAA’s right to use players’ images and likeness for commercial purposes, such as the NCAA video games that EA recently discontinued. In order to prevent the case from continuing in trial, EA settled with the over 100,000 athletes represented in the case in May. Each player was set to receive between $2,000 and $4,000 each, so the announcement today that the players could receive up to $5,000 dollars came as a bit of a surprise. The figure is the result of combining the O’Bannon case’s settlement with one from an early June trial between the NCAA and former Arizona State and Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller over video game likenesses that resulted in a $20 million payout.
Although the money is not coming from the NCAA, this payment is notable since it will mark the first time that college athletes will be compensated monetarily for playing college sports. However, the couple thousand dollars each player will receive from EA pales in comparison to what they could potentially get from the NCAA. Though EA is no longer involved in the O’Bannon antitrust lawsuit, the NCAA is. Mark Emmert testified last week and closing arguments concluded three days ago. We now await a ruling that could potentially bankrupt the NCAA and change college sports forever.