Ed O'Bannon Jr.

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.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.