Attorneys representing student-athletes who claimed that the NCAA illegally used their names, images and likenesses in Electronic Arts’ series of NCAA-branded sports games have reached a preliminary settlement with the NCAA that would add $20 million to the $40 million settlement reached recently with Electronic Arts.
The settlements cover claims from the Keller and O’Bannon cases against EA along with the Alston and Hart cases. Added to the earlier $40 million EA settlement, each student-athlete class member "could" now receive more than $1,000 for each year they appeared in the EA video games, or more depending on the response and claim rates for the class.
According to Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and lead attorney in the Keller v. NCAA, et al. case, the settlement is significant because it provides contributions to the student-athlete settlement fund and because it sets a precedent. The Keller case was scheduled for trial in March 2015 in federal court in California.
“This is the first time in the history of the NCAA that the organization is paying student-athletes for rights related to their play on the field, compensating them for their contribution to the profit-making nature of college sports,” Berman said. “We’ve long held through our various cases against the NCAA that the student-athlete is treated poorly in everything from scholarships to safety. This settlement is a step toward equity and fairness for them.”
“We began this case five years ago with the knowledge that the NCAA and member schools were resolute in keeping as much control over student-athletes as possible,” Berman added. “But we were equally resolute that anyone – even a student-athlete playing under scholarship – should not be exploited for profit, especially by the organization that vowed to prevent the athlete from exploitation.”
The NCAA settlement benefits current and former student-athletes who competed on an NCAA Division I college or university men’s basketball team or on an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision men’s football team, and whose images, likenesses or names were included in game footage or in EA video games after 2005. The earlier settlement covers student-athletes back to 2003, even if they were not in the video games.
For more information on the cases and settlements related to EA's NCAA video games, check out www.hbsslaw.com.