SBD/July 1, 2014/Colleges

Athletes, NCAA Propose Settlement Related To Video Game Appearance Payments

Sam Keller's unpaid likeness used in a video game was the genesis of the lawsuit
Many football and men's basketball players who appeared in various versions of NCAA-themed video games will "be able to receive as much as $20,000 apiece under the terms of a proposed settlement" filed yesterday, according to Steve Berkowitz of USA TODAY. The filing with U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland "covers the specific terms" of a $20M deal. However, the documents "address the combined effect not only of this proposed settlement," but also the proposed $40M settlement of a series of claims against Electronic Arts and Collegiate Licensing Co. The $40M proposed settlement was "aimed at resolving all the claims against EA and CLC, but it left standing the claims against the NCAA." The $20M proposed settlement is "aimed at resolving the claims against the NCAA" connected to the case involving former Arizona State QB Sam Keller. There "had been monetary claims against the NCAA" connected to the Ed O'Bannon antitrust case. However, Wilken "had limited them to a set made by the roughly 20 named plaintiffs, who ended up dropping those claims in the weeks leading up to a trial that concluded this past Friday." The settlements' combined value per player will depend on the number of players who make valid claims, whether a player was on a football or men's basketball roster, whether a player also was "depicted in a game as an avatar," whether a player's photograph also appeared in the game and "the number of years in which a player was on a roster, appeared in the game and/or had their photograph used in the game" (USA TODAY, 7/1). CBSSPORTS.com's Jon Solomon reported a $5,000 per year cap would "limit recoveries at participation rates less than" approximately 10%. If the participation rate is lower than 10%, the Keller lawyers said that they "will create a program to distribute any residual funds into a trust to class members who did not file a claim" (CBSSPORTS.com, 6/30).
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