You may have heard awhile back about Ed O’Bannon—former collegiate basketball star at UCLA—and the antitrust lawsuit he filed against the NCAA, Electronic Arts (EA) and the Collegiate Licensing Corporation. The lawsuit challenges the NCAA’s rights to use player’s images and likeness for commercial purposes, such as the NCAA video games that EA has been putting out since 2003.
A settlement between the college players represented in the suit and EA and Collegiate Licensing Corporation was announced last year, and today the $40 million agreement was finalized. After legal and other fees, over 100,000 players represented in the suit are expected to receive between $2,000 and $4,000 each. It’s a big step considering that while the payment isn’t coming directly from the NCAA, this is a precedent for college players receiving some compensation tied to the marketing of their performance. Without their star power, the video games don’t happen.
You will notice the settlement does not include the NCAA. Essentially, this is a partial settlement in which EA and Collegiate Licensing Corporation are now no longer defendants of the lawsuit. This leaves O’Bannon to move ahead with his lawsuit against the NCAA, who are the only remaining defendant in the case. Just yesterday, the NCAA filed another emergency petition to try and delay the trial hearing for the lawsuit, which was slated to begin on June 9th. This was their fifth attempt over the past couple of weeks to push the trial back. There’s another similar lawsuit filed against the NCAA from former Nebraska Sam Keller, and that hearing isn’t scheduled until 2015. The NCAA is petitioning that O’Bannon’s lawsuit should not be heard before the Keller case since there are overlapping issues.
Regardless of these tactics, the case should eventually make it to court, and when it does, it could be another huge step in what is looking like a losing battle for the NCAA.
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