NCAA Players’ Settlement Terms Released

A $60 million settlement fund will be shared among 100,000 college football and men’s basketball players whose images were used as avatars in Electronic Arts NCAA-based videogames.

The players will receive up to $5,000 per year for use of their likenesses, according to papers filed Wednesday in federal court.

The deal is part of a resolution to an on-going dispute over whether college athletes should be paid for use of their names, images or likenesses in videogames, on TV and in other products.

The settlement between former Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller and Electronic Arts and the Collegiate Licensing Co. was announced in June.  The latest filing by Keller’s lawyers sets out the terms of the deal.

Still unresolved is a separate case against the NCAA by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon over athlete rights to a share of the NCAA’s multi-billion dollar television contracts for broadcast of college games.  A three-week trial on that issue ended June 27, with U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken expected to rule in the coming weeks.

On Wednesday, lawyers for O’Bannon filed papers with Wilken as a written closing argument, saying she should lift the NCAA ban on paying players for commercial use of their images.  The plaintiffs argue the ban is anticompetitive and serves no positive purpose.

The Collegiate Licensing Co. deal sets a cap of $1,818 per roster appearance, and $3,182 for the EA settlement.  The total fund of $60 million in the combined settlements comes before fees and expenses.

Keller and O’Bannon will receive $15,000 each as lead plaintiffs in the case.

A portion of the money from EA includes funds for players who did not have avatars in the video games but were on the team rosters at the time.  Those will be “roster-only” payments.

Wilken must approve the terms of the deal before the money can be paid.

Case: Keller v. Electronic Arts, No. 09-cv-1967CW


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