Video Game Makers to Pay $40 Million to College Players

     (CN) – College sports players scored a $40 million settlement deal for the use of their likenesses in video games since 2003.
     The deal with Electronic Arts and Collegiate Licensing Co. marks the first time student athletes would get paid for their likenesses in video games. It caps at least 17 consolidated, federal lawsuits in which several student athletes challenged the NCAA’s ban on athletes creating their own licensing deals.
     The money will go to the estimated 100,000 players after attorneys get their 33 percent cut off the top, plus up to $2.5 million to cover their expenses, according to court documents. Original plaintiffs, former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon and former Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller will each get $15,000. The baseline was about $2,500 per player.
     The agreement provides for “all current and former student-athletes residing in the United States who competed on an NCAA Division I college or university men’s basketball team or … football bowl subdivision men’s football team” and whose images were used on NCAA-branded video games from July 21, 2005 until a “preliminary approval date.”
     The parties said they decided to settle “based on the claims asserted, the evidence developed and the damages that might be proven against EA and CLC in the lawsuits,” according to court documents.
     The agreement concluded that neither EA nor CLC had “any role with respect to the preparation or adoption of NCAA legislation,” and that neither has had “any role with respect to the form releases signed by student-athletes in order to be eligible to participate in intercollegiate athletics.”
     The agreement also lets EA off the hook in denying that it has “ever omitted any act or omission giving rise to any liability and/or violation of law.”
     U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken still has to approve the settlement. Today, she approved a request from EA to exceed page limitations in the proposed settlement.
     EA has since stopped making National Collegiate Athletic Association football video games.Last month, the NCAA lost its bid to delay an antitrust trial against it that’s set for June.

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