NCAA student athletes have long been in this weird nebulous place as public figures that really had no control over their likeness. Since they aren’t allowed to profit from their collegiate athletic career, the NCAA and various other entities have been able to slap their images on whatever t-shirt, video game, or erectile dysfunction medication they were trying to sell. EA was one of the worst perpetrators, not that I really blame them. If I wasn’t directly obligated to pay hundreds of thousands of people I wouldn’t either.
Unfortunately for EA, it looks like their free ride is over. Yesterday, EA and the Collegiate Licensing Company both settled lawsuits brought against them by current and past student athletes for unauthorized use of their likeness. While the terms of the original lawsuit were not disclosed, EA apparently settled for $40 million dollars with a class of 200,000 to 300,000 athletes. In news more relevant to the gaming community, EA cancelled NCAA Football 2014 and the future of the series is in jeopardy. EA is admitting no wrong doing in the settlement, as they were following the guidelines provided by the NCAA.
With EA settling, that leaves the NCAA standing alone against the student athletes as they were also listed in the lawsuit. I have no idea what this means for the likelihood of the ultimate success of the athletes against the NCAA, because my expertise is in video games and not law. I’ll just assume that it might be a good thing or not a good thing. You heard it here first.