NCAA Agrees to Let EA Sports Pay Players for Using Their Likeness

EA Sports settled part of a class action lawsuit in which college players claimed that the sports video game giant–with the NCAA profiting off of the students’ likenesses without paying them one red cent.

The settlement was agreed upon Monday by players’ attorneys who brought the suit against EA and the NCAA. The settlement states that each player will be paid $5,000 per year for using their likeness in one of their sports games. The judge in the case still has to issue a final ruling in August but if it’s accepted, it will end a five-year-long lawsuit. Former University of Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller first filed the lawsuit in 2009 claiming that EA Sports and the NCAA illegally profited off his name and likeness by putting him in the video game and refusing to pay him any royalties or rights for his likeness and other current and former players latched onto Keller’s suit.

The case started to swing in Keller’s favor when court documents revealed that EA Sports wanted to pay the players but the NCAA refused because it went against their policy of letting players earn any profit from playing in their league. $5,000 might not sound like a lot and it’s not compared to what the pros earn but this is a legendary step because it’s really the first time in our memory that the NCAA has approved any policy that allows its players to earn a check from their work on the field, even if it’s a digital one. Of course, given how stubborn most of the mucky-mucks at the top of the NCAA’s food chain are, this is probably the last milestone we’ll see for awhile but it’s a step in the right direction.

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