Report: EA Sports, college athletes agree on settlement of $40 million

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Video game manufacturer and NCAA licensing partner EA Sports has reached a $40 million settlement with college football and basketball players for improperly using the likenesses of athletes, according to a report from ESPN.com‘s Tom Farrey.

The settlement was reached with a federal court in Oakland, California on Friday night and it leaves the NCAA alone to defend itself in the upcoming antitrust trial spearheaded by former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon.

The settlement could deliver up to $4,000 to as many as 100,000 current and former NCAA athletes who appeared in EA Sports college basketball and college football video games since 2003.

“I’m thrilled that for the first time in the history of college sports, athletes will get compensated for their performance,” said Steve Berman, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs to Farrey. “It’s pretty groundbreaking.”

Berman represents former Nebraska and Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller and 77 percent of this latest proposed settlement would go to players represented by Berman. O’Bannon’s class of players would receive 12 percent of the settlement while former Rutgets football player Ryan Hart and former West Virginia football player Shawne Alston would receive the final 10 percent for their group of players.

O’Bannon, Keller, Hart, Alston and all other named plaintiffs will also receive payments between $2,500 and $15,000 for their time and efforts in representing the classes in the case.

The settlement still needs approval from U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken, and if it is approved, the lawyers in the case will receive up to one-third of the settlement funds, or $13.2 million, plus a maximum of $2.5 million in legal fees.

If Wilken approves, former players in EA Sports video games since 2003 will be alerted to the availability of payments and will need to register to collect. Each player will use a formula based on how many years they appeared on rosters in EA Sports video games. Lawyers representing to plaintiffs estimate that there are approximately 140,000 to 200,000 annual roster appearances in all three classes.

Some current college athletes would also be due compensation under this proposed settlement and the legal outcome creates a new dilemma in the NCAA’s quest to keep athletes from profiting from the use of their images as athletes.

An agreement in principle happened last September through Electronic Arts and the Collegiate Licensing Corporation, but issues held up the proposed settlement. The NCAA objected to their co-defendants leaving and the lawyers representing the three different classes of players couldn’t agree on the financial aspect.

In September of 2013, EA Sports announced that it’s college football series would be placed on hiatus with no new game coming in 2014 while EA hasn’t made a college basketball video game since NCAA Basketball 2010.

This is a landmark settlement as college athletes look like they’ll finally claim some money for their NCAA likenesses appearing in video games and it sets up an interesting court battle between O’Bannon and the NCAA in the upcoming antitrust lawsuit that is scheduled to begin on June 9th.

Sex assault count dropped against ex-Creighton player Watson

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Prosecutors have dropped a first-degree sexual assault charge against former Creighton point guard Maurice Watson after questions arose about the accuser’s story.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine announced Friday that his office had dropped the felony charge, filed earlier this year when a 19-year-old woman accused Watson of assaulting her early Feb. 4 at a party in an Omaha home. Watson has denied that allegation.

The 24-year-old Watson pleaded no contest Friday to misdemeanor assault for an encounter the same night with a different Creighton student, who said Watson touched her thigh and tried to make her touch his genitals. Watson was sentenced to the five days he’d already served in jail.

Watson was a senior when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in January, just days before the party.

Storm damage forces Paradise Jam out of Virgin Islands

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MIAMI (AP) — The Paradise Jam basketball tournament will not be played in the U.S. Virgin Islands this year because of damage caused by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

The tournament will be played in the U.S., with a new site expected to be announced by Sept. 29.

The Paradise Jam field this year includes Wake Forest, Colorado, Drake, Drexel, Houston, Liberty, Mercer and Quinnipiac, and each of those schools was given the chance to bid for the right to host the tournament.

Tournament officials say they looked at multiple other options, such as moving to another island and using a cruise ship for accommodations, before deciding to move the event to the U.S.

For now, the tournament is scheduled to be played from Nov. 17-20.

Kentucky lands commitment from five-star point guard

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Kentucky landed a commitment from Immanuel Quickley on Friday night, a top ten prospect and arguably the best point guard in the Class of 2018.

Quickley picked the Wildcats over Kansas, who he visited earlier this month, and Miami, who he was scheduled to visit before Hurricane Irma struck south Florida.

The 6-foot-3 point guard is the first commitment in the class of head coach John Calipari, and it really comes as no surprise. He’s been considered a Kentucky lean for months, and Quickley played for Calipari on the USA U19 team during the 2017 FIBA World Cup.

While Quickley has the size and the build – he’s 180 pounds with broad shoulders and long arms – of some of Kentucky’s former elite point guards, he’s not the same kind of point guard as, say, De’Aaron Fox or John Wall. He’s more of a smooth athlete than an explosive one, and while his long strides allow him to get out into transition, he’s not the finisher at the rim that those two were. What he is, however, is an intelligent player. He’s good in ball-screens, he’s an excellent passer and facilitator and he is a good enough shooter that he forces defenses to stay honest. He also has the potential to be a plus defender given his physical tools and the fact that he’ll try on that end of the floor.

Where this commitment gets interesting is the current point guard in Kentucky’s back court, Quade Green. Green was a five-star recruit in his own right, but he’s not quite built as a potential one-and-done prospect. Calipari has maneuvered through two point guards in the past, and each of the last five national champions have played major minutes with two point guards on the floor at the same time, but if Green is back next season that will be something to monitor.

That, however, is a long ways away.

What matters now is that Kentucky has gotten this commitment out of the way, and it paves the way for them to also receive a commitment from Zion Williamson. There has long been talk of those two attending college together, and with Quickley on the board, that likely keeps Kentucky in the driver’s seat as they pursue the South Carolina native.

If Kentucky can also wrangle a commitment out of R.J. Barrett, the No. 1 player in the 2018 recruiting class, that would likely be the end of the discussion of whether or not Duke has surpassed the Wildcats on the recruiting trail.

Five-star forward King picks Oregon

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Oregon has nabbed one of the top players in the 2018 class.

Louis King, a top-20 forward, committed to Dana Altman and the Ducks on Thursday via a video on social media.

“It’s been a tough, strenuous process,” King said, “but today makes all of that worth it. I’ve been blessed with great opportunities.”

The 6-foot-8 New Jersey native selected Oregon over other finalists Seton Hall, NC State, Purdue and Kansas.

“I would like to thank each of them for all the time and effort they put into my recruitment,” King said. “I would like to thank my coaches and my teammates that have pushed me and helped get me to this point in my career. My friends for all their love and support, but most of all I would like to thank my family, who has been by my side through it all.”

King is Altman’s second commit in 2018, joining four-star big man Miles Norris, a top-75 recruit in the class. It’s the beginning of what could be an absolutely dynamic class for Oregon, which still has two scholarships remaining.

“Out of all of my schools I felt like it was best for me and my family,” King said to MADE Hoops. “Coach Altman said that I would have the ball in my hands throughout the season. When I get there, it will be an easy adjustment for me with how I handle rock and get my teammates open. Our goal is to win a national championship next year.”

 

Four-star forward Miller Kopp commits to Northwestern

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Northwestern has a second four-star recruit in its 2018 class.

The Wildcats received a commitment from Miller Kopp, a 6-foot-6 forward, on Thursday, he announced via social media.

“I built a really strong relationship with (coach) Chris Collins and I fell in love with the campus,” Kopp told Scout. “I knew it would be a nice campus and have that stuff, but I think me and him are wired the same way. II think that his personality fits mine and I think we complement each other. I’m definitely excited to be able to go to a program on the rise and be able to make some history.”

Kopp picked the Wildcats over offers from Georgetown, Butler, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. The Houston native is ranked in the top-100 of his class by most recruiting services.

He gives Collins and the Wildcats an exceedingly strong 2018 class, which already featured four-star guard Pete Nance of Ohio along with three-star recruits Jordan Lathon and Ryan Young. It represents a major leap forward for Northwestern. It would appear that the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament appearance last March has brought momentum to the recruiting trail.