SBD/July 24, 2014/Colleges

NCAA Removes Cap On Player Payments In EA Case Prior To Approval Hearing

A revised NCAA video game settlement proposal filed yesterday has "removed a $5,000-a-year cap for current and former college football and men's basketball players who appeared in the games," according to Jon Solomon of CBSSPORTS.com. Former Arizona State QB Sam Keller's attorney Rob Carey said the change could open the door for players to receive "what some might consider a windfall." If 10% of the eligible class opts into the settlement, Carey estimated a player who appeared four years in a video game "could receive $50,000 to $55,000." Solomon noted the cap has been removed in the settlement prior to U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken's preliminary approval hearing today, when she will "discuss the combined" settlements by EA and Collegiate Licensing Company for $40M and the NCAA for $20M. If the settlement is approved, current and former players could "receive more money than initially expected with a second round of payments." Carey said that the $5,000-per-year cap for each claimant was removed because an agreement "couldn't be reached on carrying over the cap from the NCAA settlement to the EA settlement." Different claims rates would "impact the amount a player receives, along with the nature of appearing in the video game." However, players who appeared in a video game since May 5, 2007, are "worth more than those who appeared before due to a statute of limitations." Yesterday's filing showed that Wilken is being asked to decide whether the NCAA settlement "affects the injunctive relief claims by the Ed O'Bannon plaintiffs in their antitrust lawsuit against the NCAA." The O'Bannon claims say their "antitrust injunctive relief claims regarding NCAA-licensed video games cannot be validly disclosed since they never negotiated any possible release." But the Keller plaintiffs and the NCAA argue they "properly resolved all EA video game claims with the lead counsel appointed to oversee that issue" (CBSSPORTS.com, 7/23).
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