NCAA athletes have moved one step closer to receiving settlement money for having their names and faces used in video games.
Hagens Berman, the Seattle-based law firm representing former NCAA student-athletes, filed a motion to approve a settlement that could result in $40 million for athletes who claim that EA and College Licensing Co. used their likenesses in NCAA Football, NCAA Basketball and March Madness video games.
The settlement was actually reached in September after former college players originally filed antitrust and right-of-publicity suits against EA and CLC in 2009, accusing the companies of essentially using them in video games without permission or compensation.
Now we have more details with the motion to approve the settlement. More than 100,000 college football and basketball players who appeared in EA’s games since 2003 are eligible for settlement money, which will total around $40 million. Athletes will be able to receive up to $951 for each game they appeared in since 2003, Hagens Berman said. The payouts will depend on how many athletes file for claims.
“We’re incredibly pleased with the results of this settlement and the opportunity to right a huge wrong enacted by the NCAA and EA against these players and their rights of publicity,” Steve Berman said in a statement. “We’ve fought against intense legal hurdles since filing this case in 2009 and to see this case come to fruition is a certain victory.”
EA, which pays the NFL Players Union more than $30 million per year to use NFL players’ names and images for its Madden franchise, tried to used first amendment rights to dismiss the case in court. But a judge ultimately sided with the student-athletes, noting that the video game players too closely mimicked reality.
This is the first time in history that an NCAA commercial partner will pay student-athletes for use of their images and names in a video game. A separate case against the NCAA is scheduled for next year.
In September, EA announced that it would not make its annual NCAA Football game for the 2014-15 season.