By Ken Reed

Electronic Arts (EA Sports) and the Collegiate Licensing Company have negotiated settlements of the lawsuits brought by former and current college athletes, including former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon, regarding the unauthorized use of the players’ likenesses in video games and related merchandise.

”Today’s settlement is a game-changer because, for the first time, student-athletes suiting up to play this weekend are going to be paid for the use of their likenesses,” according to attorney Eugene Egdorf in a statement. Egdorf represents former Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart, who sued EA Sports in 2009.

No settlement figures were released. The O’Bannon suit against EA Sports, Collegiate Licensing Company, and the NCAA was calling for billions of dollars in media/gaming revenues to be shared with college athletes.

The player lawsuits against the NCAA remain in place.

Steve Berman, who is the lead attorney for former Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller, who brought one of the lawsuits, said the settlement will now allow attorneys to focus on claims against the NCAA.

”We hold that the NCAA intentionally looked the other way while EA commercialized the likenesses of students, and it did so because it knew that EA’s financial success meant a bigger royalty check to the NCAA,” Berman said in a statement.

The EA/Collegiate Licensing settlement is hopefully the first step toward economic justice for big-time college football and basketball players. The amateur rule at the highest level of NCAA athletics is the civil rights issue of our time.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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