Skip to main content

EA reaches preliminary settlement with exploited NCAA players

rules led death ncaa football series violate antitrust laws 2014 oregon

It has been a long and fraught legal road since former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon first filed suit against EA Sports in 2009 for unlawfully using his likeness in the publisher’s NCAA Basketball games. O’Bannon was soon joined by former Arizona State quarterback Samuel Keller, and the case quickly spiraled into a class-action lawsuit from college athletes who felt that EA Sports and the NCAA had illegally profited from their representations.

EA has finally reached a tentative settlement agreement with the players, represented by the firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP.The settlement, if approved by the U.S. District Court of Northern California, will see EA shelling out nearly $1,000 per appearance to thousands of players who have appeared in the annual rosters of the NCAA Football, Basketball, and March Madness games since 2003, totaling upwards of $40 million.

Related Videos

The crux of the conflict lies in an NCAA policy preventing its players from profiting off of their athletic performances. While the players themselves were prohibited from receiving compensation, the NCAA, its schools, and any other companies with licensing agreements, such as EA Sports, were not, which irked players who felt exploited by the arrangement. In contrast, EA pays the NFL Players Union nearly $35 million each year to use the players’ names and likenesses in games. EA successfully claimed First Amendment protection against the initial suit, but subsequent appeals have gone in favor of the players.

The rapidly-growing group of players brought a suit against EA and the NCAA to lift the restriction and compensate for losses. Unwilling to accept the blame, the NCAA fired back in late 2013 with a suit of its own against EA for failing to provide enough liability insurance against third-party claims, and against the Collegiate Licensing Company for failing to sufficiently advise EA on the contractual obligations that it breached and for not providing the NCAA with certain documents. The NCAA essentially claims that EA and the CLC cut it out of the settlement proceedings, and wants the onus of responsibility to shift accordingly.

Despite EA, the NCAA, and the CLC showing a united front for the first few years of the players’ legal assault, the suit’s pressure was simply too much for the relationship to endure, and the licensing agreement was dissolved as of the most recent batch of 2014 NCAA games.

The settlement with the players was delayed by complications with the NCAA’s subsequent suit, but will tentatively be moving forward, pending judge’s approval. The class-action will cover any players who were included in the team roster of an NCAA-branded game from May 4, 2003 up to the preliminary approval date.

Editors' Recommendations

Digital Trends Live: Uber goes hourly, EA renews Madden, Galaxy Buds review
digital trends live episode 388 mad20 se 16x9

On this episode of Digital Trends Live, host Greg Nibler discusses the top-trending tech topics of the day, including an update on President Trump's fight with social media, Uber’s “hourly” function, EA's renewal of Madden, the SpaceX launch attempt set for tomorrow, a Galaxy Buds review, and more.
Cathy Hackl

We then speak with technology futurist Cathy Hackl, who talks about the future of office work, and how remote working has been accelerated by the coronavirus.

Read more
EA renews Madden exclusivity deal with NFL, NFLPA
Madden NFL 20

Electronic Arts renewed its exclusivity deal with the NFL, locking in Madden as the only NFL-approved football sim for years.

EA Sports, the National Football League, and the NFL Player’s Association announced a multiyear renewal of their long-term partnership on Thursday.

Read more
Manchester United sues Sega, Sports Interactive for trademark infringement
manchester united youtube channel old trafford

Manchester United, the most decorated team in English football, has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Sega and Sports Interactive over the usage of its name in Football Manager.

Football Manager, which has been released annually since 2004 as the successor to Championship Manager that started in 1992, is a soccer simulator series that dives into the technical details of running a team. As the franchise nears 30 years, Manchester United decided to sue over the usage of its name in the game, The Guardian reported.

Read more