NCAA News Wire

$40 million settlement reached in EA Sports case

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EA Sports reached a $40 million settlement with college football and basketball players in the case involving the use of the likeness of athletes, reported Saturday.

The settlement was reached in an Oakland, Calif., federal court Friday night.

It leaves the NCAA alone to defend itself in the upcoming antitrust trial led by former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. That case is scheduled to begin June 9.

After attorney fees, as many as 100,000 current and former NCAA athletes could receive up to $4,000 each. The settlement applies to athletes whose likeness appeared in EA Sports college basketball and college football video games since 2003.

“I’m thrilled that for the first time in the history of college sports, athletes will get compensated for their performance,” said Steve Berman, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “It’s pretty groundbreaking.”

Berman represents former Nebraska and Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller, and 77 percent of the latest proposed settlement applies to players represented by Berman. O’Bannon’s group would receive 12 percent of the settlement while former Rutgers football player Ryan Hart and former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston would receive the remaining 10 percent for the group of players they represent.

O’Bannon, Keller, Hart, Alston and all other named plaintiffs also receive between $2,500 and $15,000 for representing the groups in the case.

The settlement still requires approval from U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken. If approved, the lawyers in the case will receive up to one-third of the settlement. That equates to $13.2 million and a maximum of $2.5 million in legal fees.

To collect on the settlement, each player must register, and their portion will be based on a formula related to how many years they appeared on rosters in EA Sports video games. According to the plaintiffs lawyers, there are about 140,000 to 200,000 annual roster appearances in all three classes.

Last September, an agreement was reached between EA Sports and the Collegiate Licensing Corporation, but the two sides could not agree on financial terms.

EA Sports did place its college football series on hiatus and has not made a college basketball video game since 2010.