As reported by Yahoo! Sports, one of the largest and most successful video game companies in the world, EA Sports, has reached a $60 million settlement in its lawsuit with current and former NCAA football and basketball players. The lawsuit, filed by dozens of current and former NCAA athletes, claimed that EA Sports failed to compensate collegiate athletes for their uses of player’s names, images, and likenesses in their NCAA football and NCAA basketball franchises between 2003-2014.
The case’s lead plaintiffs of UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, former Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart and former Nebraska and Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller, are expected to receive an estimated sum of $15,000. Another 21 plaintiffs in the case will receive approximately $5,000 for being “class action representatives.” Any athlete who appeared in any of EA’s college football or basketball video games from 2003-2014 is also eligible to receive payment. However, if the sum being given to the case’s lead plaintiffs is only $15,000 and other plaintiffs are receiving just $5,000, it is hard to imagine that an athlete who was not a plaintiff in this case would receive that large of a payment (likely between $500-$2000).
EA Sports cancelled their NCAA March Madness/NCAA Basketball series back in 2009 following the release of NCAA Basketball 2010. In 2013, EA Sports also canceled their NCAA Football franchise following the release of NCAA Football 2014 and after the initial lawsuit filed by Ed O’Bannon, which stated that collegiate athletes should be compensated by EA Sports for their use of players names, images, and likelinesses.
$60 Million may sound like a lot of money, but when you break it down 24,819 different ways (the amount of players eligible for payment in this lawsuit), this settlement really is not that great of a win for current and former collegiate athletes. Sam Keller, Ed O’Bannon, Ryan Hart, and the other plaintiffs in this lawsuit likely paid huge sums of money in order to hire lawyers and compensate other such legal fees. After all of that, what do these current and former players get? A $15,000 payment awarded to each of the three after a grueling three-year battle in court? That is not much to hang your hat on. Sure, current and former NCAA athletes were able to prove to the world that EA Sports and the NCAA are both heavily profiting from the actions and athleticism of players. All while the players are left in the dark and are shunned from profiting off of their own talents and athleticism. Hopefully, Keller and the rest of the plaintiffs in this case were more out to make a point with their legal actions rather than take back some of the profits they felt they had been robbed of. If not, the plaintiffs certainly did not win back anywhere near the finances they felt they were deprived of or entitled to. EA Sports may have been forced to dish out a large sum of money with this settlement, but they dodged a massive bullet by only having to pay players between $1,000-$15,000 for years of keeping them in the dark and making millions off of their names.