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EA agrees to pay tens of millions to college athletes

NCAA Football 14 in action.

Above: NCAA Football 14 in action.

Image Credit: EA Sports
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Electronic Arts has agreed to pay tens of millions of dollars to current and former college athletes to settle a lawsuit about using their likenesses in the animated images in EA Sports games.

“This is a historic settlement,” said lead attorney for the players, Michael Hausfeld. “This settlement represents an acknowledgment that the NCAA’s rules barring payment to current and former players cannot stand.”

The settlement leaves the NCAA as the last defendant in an antitrust case which alleges a conspiracy by the athletic association over selling the names, images, and likenesses of current and former student-athletes without compensation. The players say that the NCAA and companies like EA have reaped billions in revenues from game footage, video games, photographs, apparel, trading cards, and other memorabilia containing the names, images, and likenesses of current and former student-athletes without paying a cent to them.

Earlier this week, EA said that EA won’t release a college football game in 2014, ending a run of yearly releases that started back in 1994 with Bill Walsh College Football for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. The announcement comes from an open letter on EA’s site by EA Sports football GM Cam Weber.

He blamed legal issues between the NCAA and student-athletes, like former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon, who led the lawsuit against the NCAA for using his and other player’s likenesses in EA Sports games without providing proper compensation. That issue led the NCAA to not renew its license with EA Sports. 

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